Pope Francis celebrated Kinshasa Mass in DR Congo

By Rek Hanibal Published on February 01, 2023
Pope Francis celebrated Kinshasa Mass in DR Congo

Huge crowds started to gather in Kinshasa well before dawn, including scores of schoolgirls dressed in white who danced along the Pope's route.

A public holiday was declared so as many people as possible could attend.

Around half of DR Congo's population is Catholic - the largest Catholic community in Africa.

It is more than 37 years since a pope visited the mineral-rich but conflict-ridden country.

Jubilant scenes greeted Pope Francis at N'dole airport: "My joy is too huge that I think I am going to cry," Christella Bola told the Reuters news agency.

A 700-person choir that had been practising together long before the pontiff was originally due to visit last July had been assembled specifically for the event. The Pope's initial visit had to be postponed because of poor health.

There had been some murmurings that the Pope had not been as critical of DR Congo's political leadership as some had hoped, but the Mass was a joyful event, and the pontiff did have a strong message of peace for those engaging in conflict in the country.

Warring sides should forgive one another and grant their opponents a "great amnesty of the heart", he said.

He espouses the benefits of cleansing one's heart of "anger and remorse, of every trace of resentment and hostility".

Mattieu Nzuzi, one of those in the crowd, said he hoped the pontiff's visit would usher an end to the violence in the east of the country, near the border with Rwanda: "I hope that the visit here of the Pope to the Congo will bring peace to our country because over there, near Rwanda, the people are suffering," he said.

However, the second day of his visit coincides with a continuation of fighting between the Congolese army and rebels.


Rek Hanibal

Rek Hanibal

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