In the DRC, Pope Francis calls on Africa to be “protagonist of its destiny”

Above all, don’t miss anything. Try as much as possible to see the hand, the face, perhaps to capture the gaze of this pope who has decided to come and visit them for three days, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Fervor and joy could be read in the eyes and the fiery greetings of the tens of thousands of people who gathered on Tuesday, January 31, avenue Lumumba, between the airport and the presidential palace in Kinshasa, where the sovereign pontiff.

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The head of the Catholic Church was expected in this troubled country, whose inhabitants thought their suffering had been forgotten, relegated to the background by more recent wars perhaps, also closer to the Western world. Pope Francis, who was originally scheduled to come in July 2022, had to postpone an important trip for him due to his state of health. The Congolese who were hoping for the visit had to take their troubles patiently.

Jorge Bergoglio, who turned 86 on December 17, said it again on the plane: he would also have liked to go to Goma, capital of a state, Kivu, which has been plagued by particularly deadly unrest for several years. The deterioration of the situation since the end of 2022 has prevented him from going there. Never mind, on Tuesday, the sovereign pontiff enjoyed an invigorating walkabout in his popemobile before going to the presidential palace. Along the way, people from Kinshasa were standing on the terraces and roofs of buildings, on the concrete blocks separating the two lanes, before running towards the convoy where it was possible.

“Stop suffocating Africa”

Once at the palace, it is moreover his ” proximity “ that François assured the Kinshasa people in particular and the Congolese in general, during a speech delivered shortly after a brief meeting behind closed doors with President Félix Tshisekedi. He who hopes to draw the world’s attention first to the DRC and then to the very young South Sudan, independent since 2011 and victim of a civil war for more than a decade, declared “Come in the name of Jesus as a pilgrim of reconciliation and peace”.

The Argentine pope deplored in rather harsh words the situation of the country which is struggling to ” to safeguard “ her ” dignity “ and “its territorial integrity against despicable attempts at fragmentation”. He urged the Congolese to take their destiny into their own hands: “Courage, Congolese brother and sister. Get up, take back in your hands your dignity, your vocation to keep in harmony and peace the house you live in”.

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