The Vatican announced, Thursday, March 3, the visit of Pope Francis to the DR-Congo, then to Sudan, from the South from July 2 to 7. He will go first, from July 2 to 5, to DR-Congo, for the third visit of a pope to this great country of Central Africa marked by several decades of political instability. John Paul II went there twice, in 1980 and 1985.
→ REREAD. Warm meeting between the pope and the president of DR-Congo
On May 2, 1980, Pope John Paul II made history by kissing the ground of Kinshasa’s Ndjili airport during his first apostolic visit to this country. Five years later, on August 15, 1985, for his second visit to DR-Congo (which was still called Zaire), the Polish Pope beatified Blessed Alphonsine Anuarite Nengapeta, virgin and martyr killed by rebel “Simbas” (lions ).
This apostolic trip by Pope Francis to the DR-Congo had been announced since 2016. But he had imposed a condition on such a visit: democratic alternation in this country where the president at the time, Joseph Kabila wanted to run for a third unconstitutional term. After pressure from the Catholic Church and civil society organizations, he finally renounced this mandate.
Elected in the elections of December 30, 2019, his successor Félix Tshisekedi met Pope Francis on January 17, 2020 during an official visit to the Vatican. In DR-Congo, the Pope will meet the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, a member since October 15, 2020 of the Council of Cardinals, which is preparing in particular the reform of the Curia. He replaced his predecessor Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo.
François will then travel to South Sudan, from July 5 to 7. The Vatican has long been engaged in discussions in this civil war-torn country. In April 2019, Pope Francis organized a meeting between the country’s belligerents, at the Vatican. He attended personally, and promised to visit South Sudan once negotiations progressed. The Pope’s visit to the country will be accompanied by the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Dr Justin Welby.
This will be Pope Francis’ fifth trip to the African continent, after a first in 2015 to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. In April 2017 he traveled to Egypt, in March 2019 to Morocco and in September 2019 he toured Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.