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Pope Francis in DRC on a "mission of peace"

Pope Francis greets well-wishers after arriving in Kinshasa, Congo, Tuesday Jan. 31, 2023   -  
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Jerome Delay/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The plane carrying the Holy Father arrived at Kinshasa International Airport in the middle of Tuesday afternoon.

A dozen dignitaries including Congolese Prime Minister Sama Lukonde, alongside civil and religious authorities met him at the foot of the plane.

Pope Francis was then escorted in his Popemobile to the Palace of the Nation where he met the Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi.

The pontiff expressed his regret that the country, and more widely the African continent, still suffers from various forms of exploitation.

"This country and this continent deserve to be respected and listened to, they deserve to find space and receive attention. Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: Africa is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered. May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny!", said Pope Francis

Alongside the Pope, the Congolese president spoke of the challenges facing the  Continent, notably security and the preservation of the environment.

"The removal of security threats in our country will certainly contribute to the effectiveness of the fight against climate change and the protection of the environment. Your pastoral visit will surely contribute to strengthen this determination and our people are ready to welcome your message of peace, hope, comfort, strengthening and brotherhood", said Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, President of the DRC

Africanews reporter Serge Koffi added:

"According to the organisers, Pope Francis will not be visiting the east of the country where the security crisis has lasted for more than two decades.

It is therefore here in Kinshasa, far from the shooting and fighting that the pontiff will launch his message of peace and reconciliation with the aim of easing tensions in this part of the DRC".

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