Pope Francis arrives at N'Dolo military airport
At a large mass in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis prayed for an end to violence on the African continent.
He encouraged the faithful to be "missionaries of peace" and "to work together with all, to break the cycle of violence and to smash the plots of hatred".
Francis asked his followers for forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not mean pretending that nothing bad has happened.
The act of forgiveness creates an “amnesty of the heart”.
»Hands off Africa!«
The head of the Catholics landed in Kinshasa on Tuesday and was received euphorically.
In his first public speech, the Pope recalled, among other things, that suffering in Africa often comes from outside: “It is tragic that these areas and the African continent in general are still suffering from various forms of exploitation.
After political colonialism, an equally enslaving 'economic colonialism' unleashed itself.«
That is why the continent cannot benefit from its resources and natural resources.
"Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hands off Africa!", Francis demanded: "The suffocation of Africa must stop: there is no mine to be exploited, no land to be plundered.
May Africa itself be the protagonist of his destiny!«
Meetings planned with aid workers
On Wednesday, hours before the service began, hundreds of thousands of believers flocked to N'Dolo military airport, singing and dancing to get in the mood for the celebration.
Many women wore dresses made from fabrics depicting Francis.
The authorities announced at the beginning of the service that more than a million people had come to the airport site.
The Mass is said to be one of the highlights of the Pope's trip to Congo and South Sudan, where Francis is traveling to on Friday.
Both countries are repeatedly shaken by bloody conflicts and attacks.
Francis repeatedly campaigned for an end to the violence.
“May it be a propitious moment for you who call yourself a Christian in this country but commit acts of violence;
the Lord says to you: ›Lay down your arms and accept mercy‹«, preached the 86-year-old.
On Wednesday afternoon, meetings with victims of violence from the east of the country and with employees of aid organizations are on the program for the pope.
A planned visit to Goma in eastern Congo was canceled for security reasons.
Dozens of armed militias are active there.