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Pope Francis lands in DR Congo, welcomed with joy

Pope Francis on a wheelchair is flanked by Congolese PM Sama Lukonde, center right, as he arrives at the N'Dolo airport in Kinshasa, DR Congo on Jan. 31, 2023.   -  
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Gregorio Borgia/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Pope Francis has arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of a six-day visit to the African continent that includes a trip to South Sudan.

It is the first time that a pope has visited the DRC since 1985, a country with a population close to 100 million people, 40 percent of whom are Catholic.

"That he has left home to come to us here is a joy, for me, I see it as a dream come true. We waited for him last year, well even if he said he postponed, I didn’t have much hope anymore, but to see now that it happens, I’m thrilled! I don’t know what else to say but I’m thrilled!", said worshipper Clémentine Teka.

The Pope is aiming to bring a message of peace to the two countries riven by poverty and conflict.

"When we see a great authority like the pope coming to the Congo, it shows that diplomacy is working and as a Christian, his presence is also as a man of God.
I am not a Catholic, but the presence of a man of God in the country is also a blessing. So we can only praise his presence", said Kinshasa resident Andy Lombi.

During his visit to DRC, the Pope will meet the authorities but also meet victims of violence as well as members of the clergy and charities operating in the country.

Aid groups are hoping Francis’ trip will shine a spotlight on two of the world’s forgotten conflicts and rekindle international attention on some of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises, amid donor fatigue and new aid priorities in Ukraine.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a prayer vigil Tuesday evening at N'dolo airport ahead of a mass on Wednesday morning, which is tipped to draw more than a million faithful.

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