The Vatican says it's going ahead with plans for Pope Francis to visit the conflict-wracked Central African Republic next week, but that his top bodyguard is doing an unusual, last-minute on-site survey early in the week.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Thursday that the pope wants to bring a message of peace and reconciliation to Central African Republic, and that plans are still on for him to visit after stops in Kenya and Uganda starting on Wednesday.

But Lombardi said the pope's bodyguard is leaving Rome early to visit Bangui and that the Vatican is monitoring the situation and will "see what happens."

The country has been wracked by months of violence between Christians and Muslims.