The Head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, becoming the first to visit the embattled country in nearly 40 years since Pope John Paul II in 1985. The pontiff’s visit to Kinshasa is his 40th trip abroad and his fifth to the African continent.
Speaking at an open-air mass on the second day of his visit, the pope called on the Congolese population to reconcile by giving each other “a great amnesty of the heart”.
His message was much about peace, providing space for one another and disregarding their ethnic and regional differences.
His message came at the perfect time as violence was still prevalent in Eastern DRC. About five million people are internally displaced who fled their homes because of the violence and atrocities committed by more than 100 armed groups roaming the area, destabilising the local population.
About a million people had shown up at the stadium whilst others joined the mass from home, according to local media. The masses are hopeful that the voice of the pope would touch the hearts of the people who are perpetrating mayhem in the country.
The previous day, the pope accused wealthy nations of turning blind eyes to the humanitarian crisis in the DRC and “economic colonialism”. He also blamed colonialists for the deteriorating state of Africa, during his address to dignitaries at the presidential palace in the country’s capital on his arrival on January 31, 2023.
He called for “Hands off Arica!” adding that “it is not a mine to be stripped nor a terrain to be plundered”.
His visit has revitalised hopes in Congolese who form the largest catholic community in Africa with a population of about 45 million followers of the religion. The papal next stop is Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, after his third and final day in the central African country.
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