Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa and Goma in the restive eastern province of North Kivu from July 2 to 5. He will, after that, head to Juba, South Sudan, from July 5 to 7.
The announcement of the DRC visit was made by both the Prime Minister and the Catholic Church in Kinshasa on Thursday.
Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde said the pontiff “will have a message of reconciliation and encouragement.”
The visit, he said, “follows an official invitation” from the Congolese government.
“Pope Francis will visit our country 37 years after Pope John Paul II, a historic visit… Our government welcomes this historic announcement. We must all prepare ourselves to welcome this distinguished guest. It will be a moment of great communion,” said the government spokesman Patrick Muyaya. He added, in Swahili, “Karibu kwetu François (welcome here Francis)”.
The Pope’s visit will “revive the hope of the Congolese people who need peace, security and well-being”, said Monsignor Marcel Utembi, chairman of Congo’s National Episcopal Conference (Cenco).