Pope Francis “confirmed that he is coming” Despite Knee Pain: Cardinal in DR Congo

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of DRC's Kinshasa Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy photo

Pope Francis is expected to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in July despite his health challenges, especially the pain in his knee, the Cardinal in the Central African nation has said.

In a Friday, May 20 report, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo speaks about his encounter with the Holy Father during last month’s meeting of the Council of Cardinals in Rome. 

“Pope Francis confirmed that he is coming. Unless there are new developments,” Cardinal Ambongo has been quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, the 85-year-old Pope started using a wheelchair in public due to a torn ligament in his right knee. The knee pain has seen him cancel some of his engagements. 

In the May 20 report, the Local Ordinary of Kinshasa Archdiocese says, “I came back from Rome last week. We had the meeting of the council of cardinals with the Pope for three days. I saw that he was suffering a lot with his knee. He has a problem that complicates his mobility a bit.” 


The Cardinal further says, “The upcoming visit was also discussed during the meeting of the Council of Cardinals.”

“We talked a little, but he personally is a good Jesuit who has a sense of work, a sense of duty; his knee pain does not enter into his current vision in terms of modifying or not modifying his program,” Cardinal Ambongo has been quoted as saying, adding, “Naturally, we take into account his current health in these preparations.”

He adds, “With the government, we are trying to take measures not to add to his fatigue. That is why the current program is still tentative.”

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.

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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 be the third Papal trip to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

In the May 20 report, Cardinal Ambongo also reflects on the issues the Holy Father is likely to address during his visit.

He says, “The pope will exhort Pastors in DRC to look at the misery of our people; that we do not give the impression of living in a world where everything is perfect while the bulk of our population lives in total misery.

The member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap) adds in reference to the possible message of the Holy Father on the need for Pastors to serve the needy in DR Congo, “I believe that the Pope will come back to this with the need to give people comfort, to take the people seriously.”

“With the insecurity in the East, he will come back to this to send us to our own responsibility,” the Cardinal who has been at the helm of Kinshasa Archdiocese since November 2018 has been quoted as saying in the May 20 report. 


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.