D R Congo: A Conscience Jolting Visit From Pope Francis

By Badylon Kawanda Bakiman

Pope Francis arrived on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) / Central Africa, to awaken the consciences of Christians and other souls of good will.

In his homily on Wednesday, February 1 in Ndolo before thousands of people and Thursday, February 2 at the Martyrs stadium before young people and catechists, several messages of awareness were issued. His stay in the DRC was centered on a challenging theme: “All reconciled in Jesus Christ”.

In preaching peace, the Sovereign Pontiff evoked three great ways: forgiveness, community and mission.

“Together, today, we believe that with Jesus there is always the possibility to be forgiven and to begin again and also to find the strength to forgive ourselves, others and history! This is what Christ wants: to anoint us with his forgiveness to give us peace and the courage to forgive in turn, the courage to accomplish a great amnesty of the day. How good it is for us to cleanse our hearts of anger, remorse, resentment and rancor!

As for peace and community, Francis said: “The risen Jesus does not speak to individual disciples, but meets them together. He speaks to them in the plural and gives his peace to the first community. There is no Christianity without community, just as there is no peace without brotherhood. But as a community, where to walk, where to go to find peace?”

Regarding mission, the Pontiff did not beat about the bush: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. He sends us as the Father sent him. And how did the Father send him into the world? He sent him to serve and give his life for humanity (cf. Mk 10:45), to show mercy to everyone (cf. Le 15), to seek out those who are far away (cf. Mt 9:13). In a word, he sent him for all: not only for the righteous, but for all,” he insisted.

The youth invited to reject corruption

At the Martyrs’ Stadium on Thursday, February 2, 2023, Pope Francis had the right words to put the Congolese youth before their conscience. He recognized that young people are the future of the country.

“The opposite of honesty is corruption. All together, we say ‘no corruption’. I like this song, you are good. This is the fundamental ingredient for a future that lives up to your expectations,” said the Pope.

Many young Congolese are opposed to the corruption that plagues their country, as in the case of Floribert Bwana Chui, who was killed 15 years ago in Goma at the age of 26 for blocking the passage of spoiled foodstuffs that would have damaged people’s health. “He could have let it happen, no one would have found out, and he would have won. But as a Christian, he prayed, thought of others and chose to be honest and say no to the filth of corruption,” he said.

It should be noted that the DRC is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranking 166th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s corruption index.

In reality, the Pope’s appeals implicitly concern all Congolese regardless of their social rank. The future of the DRC also passes through this stage.

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