|Pope Francis has exuded confidence that he may finally get to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan “early February” 2023 after his pastoral visit to the two African countries was postponed, with the Holy Father’s doctor citing health challenges.
In a virtual dialogue with African Catholic students on Tuesday, November 1, Pope Francis said that his health had improved significantly, and revealed that he had started to move around with a lot more ease.
Pope Francis was responding to a request that was made by Clevine Kavira, a student from DRC who begged the Holy Father to visit the Central African nation, and to express solidarity with those undergoing various challenges in the country, including women who have been sexually abused.
“Regarding my visit, I had to suspend it because my doctor ordered me to. I am back to walking now with a cane and therefore things are improving. Hopefully, if all goes well, in early February, I will come to visit you. I will visit you and South Sudan,” Pope Francis said during the virtual dialogue with African Catholic students.
He added, “This trip was planned for February. I was thinking of late January, but the climate isn’t the very best in January, and therefore, we are moving the trip to February. We are working on the trip and I will surely be able to meet you.”
Ms. Kavira was one of the nine students that presented talking points at the November 1 virtual Papal dialogue with African Catholic University students, seeking solidarity with the Holy Father in the challenges faced by the youths in Africa.
The virtual initiative that Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) organized brought together students from 34 universities that were drawn from nine African countries. These were the DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast.
In her presentation, Ms. Kavira narrated a moving account of how the Congolese had anticipated the visit of the Holy Father, and how their hope was crushed at the cancellation of the visit.
“Last July, the whole Congolese nation and we, the Congolese Catholic youth in particular, were looking forward to your visit impatiently. Unfortunately, your health situation did not allow you to travel to my country,” she said.
Ms. Kavira added, “Many people believed that the war of the rebel groups that is ravaging the Eastern part of the country made you so afraid that you had to cancel your visit to Congo and South Sudan.”
“Holy Father, there is a lot of love and hope in our hearts and space in our hearts to welcome you. Are you still planning to come and comfort us? When will you come to meet all those women and mothers who have suffered rape, to express God’s compassion to them?” the Congolese Catholic student posed.
In his response to Ms. Kavira, Pope Francis admitted that he had been moved by the issues that the student raised, and challenged the young people in DRC to stand up to the vices in the country, including those perpetrated against women.
Addressing Ms. Kavira, the Holy Father said, “You handled your question by mentioning women who were raped, who were abused. Women are often protagonists of pain in Africa. They are often underestimated and subject to violence. I urge you to rebel against that!”
“Rebel so that you can truly achieve the freedom of women, and the dignity of women,” Pope Francis emphasized.
He added, “Women aren’t meant to be used. Women are those who give life to the people. They are mothers to the people and they are capable of working together. I urge you to do that.”
5 Nov 2022
Claudia, Office Manager
Latest News, South Sudan, Solidarity, Peace, Pope Francis