Pope Francis will commence a four-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today. It will be the first
Pope Francis will commence a four-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today.
It will be the first visit by a pope to the DRC since Pope St. John Paul II’s 1985 trip. A planned visit by Pope Francis was cancelled last year due to a chronic knee ailment. As the country is Catholicism’s largest community in Africa, the Church, in partnership with the government, provides various health services and education to its adherents.
The DRC—home to 45 million Roman Catholics ––continues to be plagued by a prolonged civil war and violence, with instability affecting the lives of its citizenry. A stop at Goma in the Pope’s itinerary was cancelled owing to resurging violence between the army and the M23 rebel group.
During his visit, the Pope is expected to meet with DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, among other Congolese authorities and civil society representatives. Expect discussions to center around mobilization of aid for victims of the violence which the Church will continue to draw attention to. Further, expect a continued push in the Church’s efforts at promoting democracy, as it will monitor the upcoming presidential elections this year.