Pope Francis “is coming as the father of a big family”: Catholic Archbishop in DR Congo

Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo, addressing journalists after a meeting with the Governor of North Kivu on 9 March 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Pope Francis will be visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “as the father of a big family”, the Catholic Archbishop of the country’s Bukavu Archdiocese has said.

Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo who was addressing journalists Wednesday, March 9 spoke about Papal visit that has been scheduled for July this year.

“The Pope is coming as the father of a big family. The first thing is to comfort the people of God, Catholics in particular and the Congolese people in general on the consolidation of faith in Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Maroy told journalists about the two-African-nation Papal trip that is to begin in DRC, and end in South Sudan.

The Local Ordinary of DRC’s Bukavu Archdiocese who had been participating in a preparatory meeting with the Governor of North Kivu Province, Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima, further said, “The Pope is coming to implore divine mercy so that the Congolese people may be reconciled with God, with themselves and with each other.”

“Pope Francis will touch the hearts of the Congolese people and make them understand that there is no interest in living through useless confrontations, useless conflicts, but we must build a single people, the people of God in the true sense of the word,” he added in reference to the July 2-5 trip during which the Holy Father is expected to meet the people of God in the cities of Kinshasa and Goma, the latter city being part of the North Kivu Province.


Citizens of DRC have experienced protracted conflicts over the years, the most affected regions being Ituri, Kasai, and Kivu, according to Global Conflict Tracker.

Dozens of armed groups are believed to operate in the Eastern region of DRC despite the presence of more than 16,000 UN peacekeepers.

Speaking to journalists March 9, Archbishop Maroy said, “Pope Francis is aware of the situation of the Congolese people especially in North Kivu Province.”

“The Pope knows how much the people of God in DRC have suffered all these years. The Pope comes to comfort us, to pray with us,” he said. 

The Congolese Catholic Archbishop who met the Governor of North Kivu alongside Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele of Goma Diocese and Bishop Melchisedec Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni Diocese, told journalists, “The Papal visit will strengthen us in our faith and provide an opportunity for all warring parties to seek peace.”

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When realized, the July 2-7 pastoral trip to the two African countries will mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

The journey will mark the first time a Pope has visited the world's youngest nation of South Sudan and the third Papal visit to DRC, the latter being home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

On March 7, Catholic Bishops in DRC urged the people of God to carry out works of mercy, reconciliation, and peacebuilding ahead of Pope Francis’ July pastoral visit.

“In order to prepare for the reception of the Pope, everyone, individually or in community, is invited to carry out works of mercy, reconciliation and the building of peace and brotherhood,” the members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said in a collective statement issued at the end of their 59th Plenary Assembly.

They added, “The meeting with the Pope is a moment of grace that requires a good spiritual preparation. This is why we invite all the faithful to pray for this great ecclesial and national meeting.”


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.