World News

Pope Francis To Visit DR Congo to console People Affected By Crisis

The Vatican’s envoy to Kinshasa says Pope Francis’s visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo will remind the world not to ignore decades-long conflicts that have beset the mineral-rich nation and wrecked the lives of millions.

Francis is expected to visit Congo from Jan 31 -Feb 3 2023, the first visit of a pope since 1985. Major preparations have been underway in the vast country, home to the largest Roman Catholic community in Africa.

“The Congo which receives the Pope on Sunday is not the same as the one which welcomed Pope John Paul II 38 years ago.” says the Vatican’s envoy, Ettore Balestrero.

“Unfortunately, there have been wars and conflicts that continue. He comes to console the people; he comes to heal wounds that are still bleeding.”

He says the mineral-rich central African nation has 45 million Catholics. The country has struggled with instability and conflicts since the 1990’s that have killed millions and given rise to dozens of militias, some of which remain active.

Pope Francis

The pope had planned to visit the eastern city of Goma when the trip was official announced, but that leg of the trip has been cancelled follow the resurgence of fighting between the army and the M23 rebel group.

Balestrero adds, “Congo is a moral emergency that cannot be ignored”.

The pope is expected to meet victims from the east of the country on Feb 1 and leaders of Catholic charities, according to the programme of his visit shared by the Vatican.

The Catholic Church plays an important role in the Congo. It manages around 40% of the country’s health structure. About 6 million students are taught in nursery, primary and secondary schools run by the church adds Balestrero.

It also runs one of the biggest and most trusted election observation missions.

Balestrero adds “Historically, the Church in this country has accompanied the consolidation of democratic consciousness and has often been the spokesperson for the most urgent needs of the population.”

Source: SABC

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