Home Christian News Pope Francis Plans to Visit Congo and South Sudan in July

Pope Francis Plans to Visit Congo and South Sudan in July

The worst flooding in 60 years, growing hunger and corruption are just some of the other issues also impeding recovery from the conflict.

The Catholic Church in Congo, meanwhile, has long been a powerful voice in the heavily Catholic nation, and church leaders were already calling for mobilization efforts to welcome Francis for the first papal visit since St. John Paul II toured in 1985.

“Such an announcement constitutes an invaluable goodness that the Lord has given to our country, to our people, a people who are going through difficult times today,” Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the archbishop of Kinshasa, said in a short address after the announcement.

He invited all Congolese to be united during the visit, which will take place in a context of insecurity and ongoing violence throughout the central African nation.

Dezis Luvete, a 43-year-old man from Kinshasa, said Francis’ visit to the east would be particularly important, because he said every day people there are dying. “I think that in Goma, the message he will bring will relieve this population,” he told The Associated Press.

Bienvenu Champami, a 35-year-old Catholic, also welcomed news of the trip. “I believe that his visit could restore hope,” said Champami.

The Catholic Church has always played a role in Congo, especially in the establishment of democracy and advocacy for human rights. The church deployed some 40,000 electoral observers in the 2019 election that brought Felix Tshisekedi to the presidency.

Tshisekedi, an opposition figure, defeated then-president Joseph Kabila’s chosen candidate in what was Congo’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

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Kamale reported from Kinshasa, Congo. Deng Machol in Juba, South Sudan and Jill Lawless in London contributed.

This article originally appeared on APNews.com.