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Pope in Congo: "Enough of getting rich with blood money"


'I condemn massacres and rapes, God have mercy on us', Francis said. Appeal to 'demilitarize hearts'. This morning one million faithful attend Mass in Kinshasa (ANSA)

In the name of God "I condemn the armed violence, massacres, rapes, destruction and occupation of villages, looting of fields and livestock that continue to be perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo".

The Pope said this when he met the victims in the east of the country.

"I turn to the Father who is in heaven" and "I humbly lower my head and, with pain in my heart, I ask Him for forgiveness for the violence of man against man. Father, have mercy on us. Console the victims and those who suffer. Convert the hearts of those who commit cruel atrocities, which bring shame upon all humanity!"

The Pope made "a heartfelt appeal to all the people, to all entities, internal and external, who pull the strings of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, plundering, flogging and

destabilizing it. You enrich yourselves through the illegal exploitation of the goods of this country and the bloody sacrifice of innocent victims. Listen to the cry of their blood, lend an ear to the voice of God, who calls you to conversion, and to that of your conscience: silence the weapons, put an end to the war. Enough! Enough to get rich on skin of the weakest, enough to get rich with blood-stained resources and money!'.

This morning more than a million people attended the mass presided over by Pope Francis at Ndolo airport in Kinshasa.

There were many people who slept outside the gates, on the large lawn in front, before the opening of the celebration which involved hundreds of priests and members of the choir.

The security measures are also impressive.

It is the event with the greatest participation of the faithful in this trip of the Pope to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and the largest in his trips to Africa.

Today is a holiday in the Democratic Republic of Congo for this appointment: schools are closed as are many work activities to allow all those who wish to participate in the event with the Pope.

In his homily, Francis stressed that Christians are called to be "missionaries of peace".

"It is a choice: it is making room for everyone in the heart, it is believing that ethnic, regional, social and religious differences come after and are not obstacles; that the others are brothers and sisters, members of the same human community; that everyone is the recipient peace brought to the world by Jesus - he said - It is believing that we Christians are called to collaborate with everyone, to break the circle of violence, to dismantle the plots of hatred. Yes, Christians, sent by Christ, are called to definition to be conscience of peace of the world".

A person cannot call himself a Christian and commit violence, the Pope remarked, thus launching an appeal to end conflicts in a country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 90 percent of the inhabitants are Christians.

"Dear friends, may today be the moment of grace to welcome and experience Jesus' forgiveness! May it be the right time for you, who carry a heavy burden on your heart and need it to be lifted to breathe again. And may it be the right time for you , that in this country you call yourself a Christian - the Pontiff underlined in his homily - but you commit violence; to you the Lord says: 'Put down your weapons, embrace mercy'. And to all the wounded and oppressed of this people he says: 'Do not be afraid to put your wounds in mine, your wounds in my wounds'".

The Pope then asked the Congolese to "forgive".

"There is always the possibility of being forgiven and starting over, and also the strength to forgive oneself, others and history! Christ desires this: to anoint us with his forgiveness to give us peace and the courage to forgive in turn, the courage to carry out a great amnesty of the heart," he said.

"How much good it does us to cleanse our hearts of anger, remorse, all rancor and hatred", added Pope Francis.

On the second day of the apostolic visit, after Mass in the afternoon, at 16.30 the Pope will meet at the Nunciature with the victims of violence and conflict, who will arrive in Kinshasa from the Kivu region, where the Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio was killed two years ago.

Again at the Nunciature, Pope Francis will see the representatives of the charitable associations operating in the country at 6.30 pm.

Yesterday from Kinshasa Francis launched a strong appeal: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo, hands off Africa! Stop suffocating Africa: it is not a mine to be exploited or land to be plundered. It is tragic that these places, and more generally the African continent, still suffer various forms of exploitation. After the political one, in fact, an 'economic colonialism' has been unleashed, equally enslaving. Thus this country, widely plundered, is unable to benefit sufficiently from its immense resources: it has come to the paradox that the fruits of its land make it 'foreign' to its inhabitants. The poison of greed has made its blood diamonds".

The Exploitation of Africa"

it is a drama in front of which the economically more advanced world - Pope Francis said in his first speech in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo - often closes its eyes, ears and mouth.

But this country and this continent deserve to be respected and listened to, they deserve space and attention: hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo, hands off Africa!

Stop suffocating Africa: it is not a mine to be exploited or land to be plundered.

May Africa be the protagonist of its destiny!

May the world remember the disasters wrought over the centuries to the detriment of local populations - is the Pontiff's appeal - and do not forget this country and this continent.

Africa, smile and hope of the world, counts more: if it is talked about more, it has more weight and representation among the Nations!

'Young people are more precious diamonds, let them not be exploited and violated'

The Pope invites the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo to invest in young people and their education.

"The most precious diamonds of the Congolese land, which are the children of this nation, must be able to take advantage of valid educational opportunities, which allow them to make full use of the brilliant talents they have. Education - underlined Pope Francis - is fundamental : it is the way for the future, the way to take to achieve full freedom for this country and for the African continent. It is urgent to invest in it, to prepare societies that will be consolidated only if well educated, autonomous only if fully aware of their potential and capable of developing them with responsibility and perseverance".

However, the Pope recalls that "many children do not go to school: how many,

instead of receiving a worthy education, they are exploited!

Too many die, subjected to slave labor in the mines.

Efforts are spared to denounce the scourge of child labor and put an end to it.

How many girls are marginalized and violated in their dignity!

Children, girls, young people are hope: let's not allow it to be erased, but let's cultivate it with passion!".

'Enough hatred, it is neither human nor Christian'

The Pope calls on the entire population of the Democratic Republic of Congo to put an end to violence and hatred.

"I therefore wish to make an appeal: every Congolese - said the Pope in his speech to the country's authorities - should feel called to do their part! May violence and hatred no longer have a place in anyone's heart and on anyone's lips, because they are anti-human and anti-Christian sentiments, which paralyze development and lead us back to a dark past".

'A forgotten genocide in Congo'

The Pope, in his speech to the authorities in Kinshasa, spoke of the "forgotten genocide that the Democratic Republic of Congo is undergoing".

President Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi had previously spoken of "terrorism at the service of foreigners" and underlined that this takes place in the "silence of the international community".

Francis had left Italy in the morning aboard 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.

Fiumicino, the Pope left for Kinshasa

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 strong 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.

Source: ansa

All life articles on 2023-02-01

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