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Pope Francis reflects on trip to DRC and South Sudan

Pope Francis meets the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed to Rome, at the end of his pastoral visit to DRC and S.Sudan, Feb. 05, 2023   -  
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Tiziana Fabi/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Pope Francis

Pope Francis ended Sunday (Feb. 06) his six-day trip to Africa with a plea for an end to conflict in South Sudan.

In a bid to spur the process along, Francis was joined on an ecumenical peace mission by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields. The Christian leaders aimed was to push Kiir and Machar to recommit themselves to the 2018 deal.

Speaking to reporters as he flew back to the Vatican, together with the head of the Anglican Communion and a top Presbyterian minister, the Pontiff gave an unprecedented joint airborne news conference.

Francis celebrated the resilience of South Sudanese women as he bet the country's transformation on them.

"The women I have seen in South Sudan, bring up their kids. Sometimes they remain alone, but they have the strength to push a country forward. The women are great. They are the ones that are moving things forward. The men go to fight, go to war and these women with 2, 3, 4, 5 children go forward. I saw them in South Sudan."

On the first leg of his African trip (Jan. 31 - Feb .03), Francis was in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thourhout his stay, he celebrated Mass before thousands of Catholic Christians, met with aurhotiries, spoke to the youth and invited Congolese to forgive those who committed "inhuman violence" against them.

He also called for an end to war in the mineral-rich country. In eastern Congo armed groups that have been accused of fighting for influence, control of ore and therefore money.

Francis slammed once again a colonialist mentality that has prevailed for centuries: "........ We have to get rid of the idea that Africa is to be exploited. Africa has its own life and in this the Congo is at a very high level. Speaking of exploitation, I have been really struck by the pain and the problems in the East, where there is a problem of war and exploitation." 

"In the [Democratic Republic of] Congo, I was able to have a meeting with victims of that war. Terrible. Wounds, amputations, so much pain, so much pain all just to take the wealth."

and in South Sudan on the second leg of a , that have been riven by poverty, conflicts and what he calls a "colonialist mentality" that has exploited Africa for centuries.

Francis fifth trip to the continent took place months behind schedule.

He was initially expected to tour the two countries in July last year.

The papal trip put a global spotlight on the plight of 2 nations, where humanitarian needs are soaring.

Francis had started his fifth trip to a continent by visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo.

France mostly hoped to bring comfort and encouragement to two countries. South Sudan has suffered civil war and climate disasters in the past few years. Congo's east suffer from rebel groups violence and a humanitarian emergency.