Pope Francis Postpones Pastoral Trip to DR Congo and South Sudan for Health Reasons

Pope Francis is pictured in St. Peter’s Basilica on Pentecost Sunday, 5 June 2022. | Vatican Media.

The Apostolic trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the ecumenical visit to South Sudan that Pope Francis had scheduled in July has been postponed, the Vatican has announced in a statement.

In the Friday, June 10 statement, the Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni, says that the postponement has been “at the request of his doctors” and that the trip will take place at a date that is yet to be determined.

“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan,” the Vatican spokesman says.

The two-African-nation pastoral trip that had been scheduled to begin in the capital city of DRC, Kinshasa on July 2, and conclude on July 7 in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, will be moved “to a later date to be determined,” Mr. Bruni adds.

Officials of the Holy See had unveiled the itinerary of Pope Francis’ third trip to Africa last month.


In the program that was published May 28, Vatican officials described the second leg of Pope Francis’ 37th Apostolic Visit abroad as an “Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to the South Sudanese Land and People”. 

The 85-year-old Pontiff was scheduled to undertake the pastoral visit to South Sudan alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

Reacting to the news of the postponement of the visit to South Sudan, Bishop Christian Carlassare of Rumbek Diocese expressed his “concern for the health of the Pope and concern for South Sudan and the transitional process towards unity and peace”.

In an interview with ACI Africa June 10, Bishop Carlassare encouraged the people of God in South Sudan to foster hope about the postponed Papal visit.

He said, “Do not get discouraged. We know that we are in the heart of the Pope and the Church. When possible, the Pope will certainly come.”

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The Catholic Bishop who had given directives for a 400-km walk involving young people in his Episcopal See to participate in the ecumenical visit expressed his spiritual solidarity with the Holy Father.

“We keep him in our prayer and we are united to him in his ministry,” Bishop Carlassare said in reference to Pope Francis, and added, “We shall wait for his coming … We shall not wait idle but committing ourselves to reconciliation, unity and peace.”

On May 19, Pope Francis used a wheelchair during a public meeting, the first time he had done so publicly since leaving the hospital after colon surgery in July 2021.

Due to a torn ligament in his right knee and the resultant pain, the Holy Father has had to cancel some of his engagements. 

On May 9, the Tourism Minister of Lebanon announced that the Holy Father had postponed the June 12-13 trip to the Western Asian country “for health reasons”. 


The Holy Father is still scheduled to visit Canada on July 24-29.

Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla is ACI Africa’s founding Editor-in-Chief. He was formed in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), and later incardinated in Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. He has a PhD in Media Studies from Daystar University in Kenya, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Marist College, New York, USA.