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Norwich perspective on Pope’s historic visit to Africa

This week Pope Francis has visited Africa, the fastest-growing part of the Catholic world, for the first time, taking a message of hope to the terrorist and war-torn countries of Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

It is the first time that a Pope has visited an active war zone and he used the trip to address issues of inter-faith dialogue, poverty and concern for the environment.

Yesterday, Norwich RC Cathedral trainee priest Mbongiseni (Dominic) Nyathi from Zimbabwe, spoke to Radio Norfolk about the historic trip.

The visit of the Pope is very important for the continent, Dominic told presenter Anthony Isaacs.

"Africa is a very rich country in terms of faith and belief but it also has its own challenges such as poverty, inequality, unemployment, corruption and terrorism. But Pope Francis carries with him a message of hope to the victims of these social ills," said Dominic.

"What stands out for me is that he has criticised corruption very much. He has emphasised the impact of corruption on young people and he has gone there to encourage them in their faith and not to give up on it because of the challenges they face.

"The young have been very excited about the arrival of the Pope and came out in huge numbers to greet him. And it was not just Catholics that were happy to have the Pope there, many non-Catholics were as well."

Dominic also spoke about the Pope's concern for the environment: "The young people of Africa have taken up the Pope's call to respect and cherish nature and have been planting trees," he said.

"The Pope recognises Africa's richness in terms of mineral resources and sees it as God's gift to Africa and he has urged African leaders to use those gifts to better the lives of the poor and to create opportunities for young people.

"Pope Francis is a living Gospel of humility. He is a very humble servant of God and this is how he inspires me."

Dominic also told listeners about his own personal faith journey: "I was born into a Catholic family and as a young boy I used to serve at the altar and I fell in love with the altar and felt the calling to the priesthood. I prayed about it and felt that this is where I belong to.

"Serving at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich has really helped me to adapt to the English way of life and the people there have been so friendly and I have received a very warm welcome," he said.

Next year, Dominic will start his priesthood studies at Oscott College in Birmingham where he will be for six years.

To hear the full interview click here (Start at 1hr 43mins. Available until December 27)

Pictured above is Dominic Nyathi.

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