Pope Francis “is St. Peter coming to us, to confirm us in the faith”: Bishop in DR Congo

Bishop Timothée Bodika Mansiyai of DR Congo's Kikwit Diocese. Credit: ACN

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has expressed joy as the Central African nation awaits the visit of Pope Francis, noting that the visit signifies the coming of St. Peter “to confirm us in the faith”.

During a visit to the international headquarters of Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), in Germany, Bishop Timothée Bodika Mansiyai said that the population in DRC is all really thrilled at the news of the visit of Pope Francis who they look up to as a shepherd.

“When news of the Pope’s visit was made public, we were thrilled. This is Saint Peter coming to us. He comes as a shepherd, to confirm us in the faith, and we feel very blessed by his visit”, Bishop Bodika has been quoted as saying in the ACN Monday, May 16 report.

The Congolese Bishop says that for Catholics in the Central African country, the Holy Father’s visit is a moment of great joy, adding that there is a lot of curiosity, especially for those who do not know Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is expected to arrive in the capital of DRC, Kinshasa, on July 2 in his two-African-nation pastoral trip that is to see him proceed to South Sudan in an ecumenical trip alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.


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, the latter city being the capital of North Kivu Province in Eastern DRC.  

In the ACN May 16 report, the Local Ordinary of Kikwit Diocese says that Catholic Bishops in DRC are highlighting the spiritual dimension of the Papal visit and want the population to understand that the Holy Father is the successor of Peter, who has come to confirm his people in the faith.

He adds that his Episcopal See, in particular, has already embarked on a sensitization program to help the population understand that the Holy Father who will be in DRC between July 2 and 5, is the successor of Peter.

“We have been reciting the prayer of preparation for the Holy Father’s visit at the end of each Mass”, explains Bishop Bodika who has been in charge of the Diocese of Kikwit since 2016.

The member of the Society of Priests of St. Sulpice (Sulpicians) says he expects Pope Francis’ message to be of reconciliation in the country that is faced with complex challenges ranging from civil strife to hunger.

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“The Pope is coming to tell us: ‘People of Congo, be reconciled!’. The DRC is an enormous and very rich country, but there is widespread suffering in society,” Bishop Bodika says.

He adds, “The Pope is coming to us during a very troubled time in the life of our country. For example, he will be in Goma, where there is much tension; there are armed groups that spread terror for selfish reasons, even though it is the richest part of the country.”

The Congolese Catholic Bishop says that despite all the problems in the country, his compatriots have something to offer the Universal Church.

He says that in DRC, there have been immense efforts to give more prominence to the Laity in the Church, according to the Second Vatican Council. He adds, “I would tell the Pope: ‘Holy Father, I am the chairman of the Bishops’ Commission for the Laity. See, there are the laypeople. See the youth.”

Bishop Bodika tells ACN that during his last visit to Rome, in 2014, when he was an Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, Catholic Bishops in DRC invited Pope Francis to visit their country.


“The Holy Father replied: ‘Yes, one day I will go’. Finally, that moment has come”, the Catholic Bishop tells the Pontifical charity organization in the May 16 report.

When realized, the July 2-7 pastoral trip to DRC and South Sudan will mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa. The journey will be the third Papal trip to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.