Catholic Bishops in DR Congo Urge “works of mercy, peace building” Ahead of Papal Visit

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) during their 59th Plenary Assembly. Credit: CENCO

Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have, in a collective statement at the end of their 59th Plenary Assembly, urged the people of God to carry out works of mercy, reconciliation, and peacebuilding ahead of Pope Francis’ July pastoral visit.

On March 3, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, announced that 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 their Pastoral Letter dated Monday, March 7, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) highlight the importance of the Papal visit and preparations ahead of the four-day event.

“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,” Catholic Bishops in DRC say.

They add, “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.”


“We are making available to all Christians a prayer prepared for this intention, which will be said at the end of each Eucharistic celebration, until the end of the Pope's visit,” CENCO members say.

They continue, “In addition, we ask that on the first Thursday of each month, a moment of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament be organized and every Saturday a rosary be recited in parishes and religious communities.”

The members of CENCO note that “the success of such a large-scale visit depends to a large extent on the involvement of each of us in the material organization.”

“We therefore ask all our faithful and all people of good will to contribute to the material organization of this ecclesial and national event. In the same vein, each Bishop will set up special collection days in his Diocese,” Catholic Bishops in DRC say in their Pastoral Letter shared with ACI Africa.

They add, “Pope Francis clearly has the DR Congo in his heart. On several occasions he has shown that he is closely following the situation in our country, by saying a word or making a gesture of pastoral solicitude in favor of the Congolese people.”

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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 their 6-page Pastoral Letter of March 7, members of CENCO highlight the importance of the Papal pastoral trip to various territories of the world. 

“According to the Catholic faith, the Holy Father receives his mission from Christ himself as the Successor of the Apostle Peter. He continues to assume the office which was that of the Prince of the Apostles from the time of his election by the Cardinals to the See of Rome, the place of Peter's martyrdom,” Catholic Bishops in DRC say. 

They note that as the servant of the servants of God, the Holy Father is “first and foremost the guarantor of the unity of the faith received from the Apostles and of the full communion of the Catholic Church.”

“The apostolic visit of Pope Francis to DR Congo is part of the mission he received from God as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the disciple to whom Jesus said: You are Peter and, on this rock, I will build my Church and to whom he asked to feed his sheep,” CENCO members say.


They continue, “The Holy Father comes to us as a good shepherd who does not want to lose any of his sheep. He comes to strengthen the Catholic faithful in the faith of the Apostles, to comfort his brothers in the episcopate, to share our joys and sorrows, and to revive the hope of the Congolese people, who are suffering from tribulations of all kinds.”

“Let us rise up and allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit who allows us to recognize in the person of His Holiness Pope Francis the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” Catholic Bishops in DRC say.

May the Holy Spirit, they say, “act effectively in each one of us and enlighten us in the organization that we are going to put in place for the success of the Ecclesial and National Rendezvous from 2 to 5 July 2022.”

“Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Congo, of Saint Joseph and of our Blessed Marie Clémentine Anuarite and Isidore Bakanja who welcomed Christ in their lives, may God grant us to launch into the preparation of the reception of the Sovereign Pontiff with faith and joy for his greater glory,” CENCO members implore.

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

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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 week, Catholic Bishops in South Sudan and the DRC said they have received with “great joy” the news of the planned pastoral visit of Pope Francis to their respective countries.

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.