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Papal trip of peace: Democratic Republic of Congo prepares for Pope Francis' visit

Pope Francis' trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo has changed slightly. He was originally going to visit the Kivu region in the Eastern part of the country. But now, he will not travel there due to the potential danger.

In an interview with Spanish magazine, Mundo Negro, the Pope said the reason is not that he's afraid. “But with an atmosphere like” the one in the Kivu region, it could be dangerous to pilgrims who come to see him and that it is important “to take care of people.”

Both the Pope and the Vatican have explained that no concrete threats have been made regarding the trip.

During his visit, Pope Francis will stop in the capital city of Kinshasa. There, he will visit with victims of this ongoing internal conflict. 

Diocese of Mbujimayi

I really feel like this is a very strong response from the Holy Father—to go there and experience the poverty of the people, to encourage all faithful Catholics who are wounded and also all the people in the land who are waiting for this visit.

Following Congo's First War, which ended in 2003, there was a period of peace. However, the emergence of the rebel group, M23, led to growing unrest and violence in East Congo.

For this reason, Fr. Timothèe Mukula Citala, a priest of 10 years for the diocese of Mbujimayi, believes this papal visit is an important sign of solidarity for the hundreds who have been wounded by the effects of the ongoing conflict.

Diocese of Mbujimayi

It is truly my hope that when the Holy Father arrives in the country, as a man of God, a man of faith, I hope the situation will change and we will move from war to peace. Because we have prayed so much for that and I really think that this transition is another message of peace that the Pope brings to our land.

While this is Pope Francis' first visit to the country, it is not the first papal trip. Pope John Paul II visited the country twice, when it was then known as Zaire, once in 1980 and again in 1985.