Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on a pastoral visit in the Central African Republic, where he will ordain 4 Bishops

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, arrived this afternoon in the Central African Republic, for a pastoral visit of a week. The most solemn moment will be characterized on Sunday, July 22, by the episcopal ordination of four Bishops, presided by the Prefect of the Congregation: the Bishops elected, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on May 14, 2012, are His Exc. Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga ( Archbishop of Bangui), His Exc. Mgr. Nestor-Désiré Nongo Aziabgia (Bishop of Bossangoa), His Exc. Mgr. Dennis Abgenyadzi (Bishop of Berberati), His Exc. Mgr.Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa (Bishop Coadjutor of Alindao). Cardinal Filoni’s visit will be characterized by several meetings: with the Bishops and general Vicars, with the priests, the men and women religious, with delegates of the laity. On 20 July the Prefect of the Congregation will be received in audience by the Head of State. The Cardinal will also visit some orphanages and parishes in Bangui. On 26 July he is expected to return to Rome. According to the latest Statistical Yearbook of the Church, the Central African Republic has an area of 622,984 square kilometers, a population of 4,298,000 inhabitants, of which 1,282,000 are Catholics. The ecclesiastical districts are 9, 116 parishes, 10 missionary stations with resident priest and 1,615 without a fixed priest. There are 11 Bishops, 192 diocesan priests and 125 religious, 23 religious who are not priests, 354 women religious, 13 members of secular female institutes, 26 lay missionaries, 4,199 catechists. The minor diocesan seminarians are 222 and 124 religious ones. The major diocesan seminarians are 156 and 62 religious ones. The Church runs 106 kindergartens, 148 elementary and 23 middle schools, in addition to 114 charity and assistant institutes, including 12 hospitals, 35 dispensaries, 8 centers for the elderly and handicapped, 4 orphanages, 23 rehabilitation centers. Some notes on the history of evangelization: in 1846 the current territory of the Central African Republic became part of the Apostolic Vicariate of Central Africa, entrusted until 1878 to Fr. Daniele Comboni and his missionaries. The first Catholic mission was founded in Ubanghi-Chari, by the Spiritan missionaries in 1894, sent by the Apostolic Prefect of Brazzaville. In 1909 the Apostolic Prefecture of Ubanghi-Chari was erected. In 1929 the first women religious arrived, Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit. In 1937 the Apostolic Prefecture of Ubanghi-Chari became Apostolic Vicariate and in 1940 was renamed Bangui. In 1938 the first native priest was ordained. On 14 September 1955 the local Hierarchy was established and Bangui was elevated to Metropolitan Archdiocese. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 18/7/2012)