Pope Francis Expresses “spiritual closeness” With Victims of the Congo’s Stadium Stampede

Pope Francis in prayer. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis has expressed his “spiritual closeness” with those affected by the Monday, November 20 stadium stampede in Congo-Brazzaville that reportedly resulted in the death of at least 37 people and dozens others injured.

In a Tuesday, November 21 Reuters report, the stampede occurred at Ornano stadium in the Republic of Congo’s capital city, Brazzaville, on the night of November 20 as the young men struggled to submit their applications during an army recruitment drive.

In his Friday, November 24 telegram message addressed to the President of the Episcopal Conference of Congo, Archbishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brazzaville on behalf of the Holy Father, the Vatican Secretary of State shares the Holy Father’s reaction to the tragedy. 

“Learning with sorrow of the tragic accident that occurred at the Ornano stadium during an army recruitment operation, his Holiness Pope Francis has charged me with assuring the families and loved ones of the deceased of his spiritual closeness,” Pietro Cardinal Parolin says.

Pope Francis, Cardinal Parolin adds, “asks the most high to grant eternal happiness to those who have passed away and to support the families in grief and sorrow, inviting everyone to great fraternal and spiritual solidarity with all those who are in distress.”


The Vatican Secretary of State continues, “Pope Francis pays tribute to all those who came to the aid of the young people in distress. Above all, he implores the blessings of the Almighty.”

According to the November 21 Reuters’ report, Congo-Brazzaville has suspended the army recruitment process and declared a day of mourning for the 31 individuals who lost their lives in the tragedy that left 140 others injured.

With a population of 5.8 million, the Central African nation reportedly faces widespread unemployment. According to the World Bank, 75 percent of the Congolese workforce engages in the informal sector, either as self-employed individuals or in low-productivity jobs.

Earlier, in August, a stampede of sports fans, who were entering Madagascar’s National Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Indian Ocean Island Games resulted in 12 fatalities and some 80 injuries, Reuters reported on August 25.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.