The Pope is on his way to Kinshasa.
Francis left on board an Ita Airways Airbus A350, named after Enzo Bearzot, for a six-day apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, the 40th since the beginning of his pontificate, the first in 2023 outside Italy.
The Pope's plane took off at 8.29 from Leonardo da Vinci airport, arriving at Kinshasa's "Ndjili" international airport is scheduled for 3 pm local time.
Arriving by car at the Leonardo da Vinci shortly after 8 am escorted by Vatican security and the Police, the Pope, after greeting those present, with the aid of an electric lift made available by Adr, then reached the the aircraft entrance door where the on-board personnel were waiting for him before boarding.
To greet Pope Francis alongside before departure were the president of Ita Airways, Antonino Turicchi, with the managing director and general manager Fabio Maria Lazzerini and the chief commercial officer and CEO Volare, Emiliana Limosani;
airport and police authorities and two carabinieri lined up in full uniform.
In a telegram to the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, the Pontiff underlined that he left for Africa bringing "a message of peace and reconciliation" and that he was "moved by the keen desire to meet his brothers in faith and the inhabitants of those nations", wishing "the good and prosperity of the entire Italian people".
On arriving at Fiumicino airport, the Pope's car stopped briefly near the Monument to the Fallen of Kindu, the 13 Italian airmen killed in the Congo on 11 November 1961. To the victims of that massacre and to all those who lost his life participating in humanitarian and peace missions, Pope Francis dedicated a prayer.