Pope Francis Coming “not only for Catholics”, Apostolic Nuncio in DR Congo Says

Archbishop Ettore Balestrero (left) and Minister Patrick Muyaya (right) addressing journalists after the first preparatory meeting ahead of the Pope's July 2-5 trip to DRC. Credit: Primature RDC/Facebook

The representative of the Holy Father in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has said the planned Papal visit is for everyone in the Central African nation, and not just for Catholics.

Speaking to journalists last week after the first preparatory meeting ahead of the July 2-5 trip to DRC, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero highlighted the importance of the Holy Father’s trip for the people of God in DRC.

“The Pope is coming not only for Catholics. He comes for everyone. He wants to see everyone. That is why we are committed to preparing the event well,” Archbishop Balestrero told journalists March 31.

He added, “The Pope is coming as a brother, to lead us to Jesus but also to invite everyone to reconciliation.”

The Holy Father plans to visit two African nations in his July 2-7 trip that is to begin in DRC, and conclude in South Sudan.


In his four-day pastoral visit to DRC, the Holy Father is scheduled to meet the people of God in the cities of Kinshasa and Goma.

In his March 31 address to journalists, the 55-year-old Apostolic Nuncio also spoke about how the Catholic Church is preparing for Papal visit saying, “The Church has also set up commissions similar to those set up by the Government precisely to accompany the work of preparation.”

“The Church has to do the more specific preparatory work concerning the essential aspect of the Pope's visit,” the Italian-born Archbishop further said.

The March 31 meeting brought together DRC’s Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, Archbishop Balestrero, and representatives of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO)

Addressing journalists after the meeting, the Minister of Communication and Media in DRC highlighted the objective of the preparatory session.

More in Africa

“You remember that a few days ago the Prime Minister, alongside the Apostolic Nuncio and the entire hierarchy of Cenco, announced this great event, namely the arrival of the Pope. Since then, many things have been done on both sides, whether at the level of the Church or the Government,” Patrick Muyaya said.

The government spokesperson further said, in reference to the meeting, “Today, we have agreed to work more closely to see to what extent we provide the organization that the Pope's visit deserves.”

“Following this meeting, the Prime Minister wrote to all of us, members of the Government, to inform us of the establishment of the commissions,” he said.

Mr. Muyaya further said the Prime Minister instructed the sectors concerned to prepare the roadmaps, which will serve as a guideline for each targeted sector. 

“At the level of communication, at the level of logistics, of stewardship, at the level of finances and today was therefore like a first meeting since that meeting. Commissions will be set up,” he said.


The DRC government official further said the various commissions are expected to present roadmaps and regular updates. He said, “There will be meetings like this until the Pope arrives, to make sure things are done as they should be done.”

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.

Last month, 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.

On March 14, officials of the Holy See Press unveiled the logo and motto of the Pope's visit to the DRC. The motto bears the words, “All reconciled in Jesus Christ.”

(Story continues below)

On his part, the Bishop of DRC’s Butembo-Beni Diocese called on members of the Clergy, women and men Religious and the Laity in the Central African nation to actively participate in their numbers in the planned pastoral visit of Pope Francis in July.

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.