In the cathedral, the pope listened to testimonies from a diocesan priest, a religious sister, and a seminarian.
Sister Alice Sala asked Pope Francis to help tell the world about what is happening in the DRC, where more than 120 armed groups are fighting for control of the country’s eastern region, an area rich with natural resources.
Violence in eastern DRC has created a severe humanitarian crisis with more than 5.5 million people displaced from their homes, the third-highest number of internally displaced people in the world.
“Since Congo is a land of martyrs, murders, and wars entertained and financed from outside, we ask Your Holiness to be our spokesperson in the world so that the good of the people may take precedence over interest in our natural resources,” Sala said.
“Most Blessed Father, despite this picture of multiple injustices, the Congo remains a land blessed by God, a generous, prayer-loving people, filled with vitality and hope, as Your Holiness has surely observed. That is why we are not discouraged, because we believe in the risen Christ.”
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About 1,200 people were present inside of the cathedral, according to local authorities, with thousands more gathered outside.
Pope Francis encouraged priests and religious to continue to bring the Congolese people Jesus, who “heals the wounds of every human heart” at Our Lady of Congo Cathedral in Kinshasa on Feb. 2, 2023. Credit: Elias Turk/EWTN
The Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life each year on Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas. Established by St. John Paul II, the day recognizes the beauty and impact of a life dedicated to poverty, chastity, and obedience.
In the pope’s speech to the priests, seminarians, and consecrated men and women, he offered advice for how to overcome spiritual mediocrity and a worldly mentality.
“Never forget that the secret of everything is prayer … since the ministry and the apostolate are not primarily our own work and do not depend solely on human means,” Pope Francis said.
“First of all, let us remain faithful to certain liturgical rhythms of prayer that mark the day, from the Mass to the breviary. The daily celebration of the Eucharist is the beating heart of priestly and religious life. The Liturgy of the Hours allows us to pray with the Church and with regularity: May we never neglect it! Then, too, let us not neglect confession. We always need to be forgiven, so as then to bestow mercy upon others.”
Pope Francis added that it is important to “set aside a time of intense prayer each day, to remain ‘heart-to-heart’ with Our Lord. … a time of closeness to the One whom we love above all else.”
“If we remain docile in God’s hands, he shapes us to become a people of reconciliation, capable of openness and dialogue, acceptance and forgiveness, who make rivers of peace flow through the arid plains of violence,” he said.
“May you always be channels of the Lord’s consoling presence, joyous witnesses of the Gospel, prophets of peace amid the storms of violence, disciples of love, ever ready to care for the wounds of the poor and suffering. Thank you, brothers and sisters, I thank you again for your service and for your pastoral zeal. I bless you and carry you in my heart. And I ask you, please, always pray for me!”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.