Millions of Catholics around the world turned out Sunday to attend a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. The turnout underscored Francis’ clout as he pushes for structural change in Africa and deals with problems afflicting the 1.2 billion-member Church there. The pope arrived in Kinshasa on Saturday for a five-day visit during which he is scheduled to meet with government officials and the country’s spiritual leader, Cardinal Jean Pierre Lobo. Francis has made fighting poverty and social injustice one of his key priorities during his papacy.
According to estimates, one of Pope Francis’ largest Masses was attended by approximately a million people in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Pope Francis’ largest Mass in DR Congo was attended by approximately a million people in Kinshasa, according to estimates. The mass, which took place on September 25th, was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Church in the country. Additionally, Pope Francis delivered a speech during the Mass and called for peace and reconciliation among Congo’s various ethnic groups.
Africa is regarded as Catholicism’s future, but some argue that it ought to be represented more fully.
In his first pastoral letter on Africa, Pope Francis urged Catholics in the DRC to “feel close to Christ” and appreciated the Catholic Church’s history in the region. The Catholic population of the DRC is estimated at around ten million people, about one-seventh of the country’s population. Meanwhile, a recent report by The Economist argued that Catholicism is not well-represented in Africa and that it ought to be more actively engaged in promoting democracy and human rights. Some argue that Catholicism should focus more on providing social services than evangelizing; others maintain that African Catholicism is thriving and represents a significant part of the continent’s culture.
In preparation for the occasion, a 700-member choir had been practicing together long before the pontiff was originally scheduled to visit in July of last year. Due to his ill health, the Pope had to postpone his initial visit.
As millions of people packed the Kinshasa stadium to hear Pope Francis deliver his first ever Mass in DR Congo, it was clear that the Catholic Church has a devout following in this country. The 700-member choir that had been practicing together long before the pontiff was originally scheduled to visit in July of last year had worked tirelessly to make sure they sounded their best.
Unfortunately, due to his ill health, the Pope had to postpone his initial visit. But, as he said during his address after mass, “I am grateful for all these crowds who have come here today – even though I could not be with them physically.” He went on to say that he is happy to be able to bring spiritual blessings to the people of DR Congo.
On the second day of his six-day trip to Africa, he advised opposing sides to forgive one another and provide their adversaries with a “great amnesty of the heart.”
Pope Francis addressed the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a Mass at the national stadium in Kinshasa on Sunday. The Pope urged both parties to forgive one another and offer a “great amnesty of the heart.” He also called for an end to violence andfor people to work together for the good of their country.
“I appeal especially to those who are in positions of power, to use their authority and their influence to promote dialogue and cooperation, so that all can work together for the common good,” said Pope Francis.
The Pope’s visit has drawn millions of people into the streets of Kinshasa, some waving Vatican flags and others chanting “Viva il Papa!” On Saturday, Francis met with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.