Pope Francis to Celebrate Holy Mass with Congolese in Rome after Postponing Trip to Africa

Pope Francis meets participants in the general chapter of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, 13 June 2022. | Vatican Media.

Pope Francis has planned to celebrate Holy Mass with Congolese in Rome on the day he was previously scheduled to preside over Sunday Mass at Ndolo Airport in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Speaking at the start of his audience with members of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Monday, June 13, Pope Francis said he intends to celebrate Holy Mass with the “many” Congolese in Rome on July 3.

“We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Congolese in Rome, of which there are many,” Pope Francis told participants in the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa, a day after he apologized to authorities of DRC and South Sudan for having to postpone his two-African-nation pastoral visit.

He reiterated his intention to reschedule the six-day trip that was to begin in the capital city of DRC, Kinshasa on July 2, and conclude on July 7 in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba.

“Unfortunately, with great regret, I had to postpone the trip to Congo and South Sudan,” the 85-year-old Pontiff told the delegates of the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa.


He added, “Indeed, at my age, it is not so easy to go on a mission trip! But your prayers and example give me courage, and I am confident that I can visit these peoples, whom I carry in my heart.”

Pope Francis has been suffering from a torn ligament in his right knee, limiting his ability to walk. On May 19, he 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.

The pain in his right knee has seen him cancel some of his engagements. For instance, 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”. 

On Monday, June 13, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will not preside at the June 16 Corpus Christi Mass and procession due to the pain in his right knee.

In a statement, the Holy See press office said that the decision not to preside over Holy Mass of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi was taken “due to the limitations imposed on the Pope by gonalgia,” or knee pain, “and the specific liturgical needs of the celebration.”

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The Holy Father is still scheduled to visit three cities in Canada next month, from July 24-29.

In the program the Holy See published on May 28, the first leg of Pope Francis’ 37th Apostolic Visit abroad was to start at Kinshasa Ndjili international airport on July 2 with an official welcome, before proceeding to the “Palais de la Nation” for the welcome ceremony.

Other planned activities of his first day in DRC were a courtesy visit to President Félix Tshisekedi at the Presidential Suite of the "Palais de la Nation", meeting with authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in the garden of the "Palais de la Nation", and finally, his “customary” private meeting with his confreres, members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), at the Apostolic Nunciature in Kinshasa.

On July 3, Pope Francis had been scheduled to preside over Holy Mass, a daylong celebration that was to be followed by an evening meeting with Bishops, Priests, women and men Religious, and Seminarians at the Cathedral "Notre Dame du Congo" of Kinshasa Archdiocese.

The Holy Father was scheduled to fly to the city of Goma in North-Kivu, the headquarters of the Episcopal See that is under the pastoral of Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, the Burundian-born member of the Missionaries of Africa.


In Goma, Holy Mass had been scheduled to take place at Kibumba refugee camp, to be followed by a late afternoon meeting with victims of violence in Beni, and the return of the Holy Father to Kinshasa.

On the morning of July 5, Pope Francis had been scheduled to engage with young people and Catechists at Kinshasa’s “Martyrs' Stadium” in a 30min session that was to be followed by a farewell ceremony at the “Ndjili" international airport, from where he would have started the second leg of his trip to Africa that the Vatican has described as an “Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to the South Sudanese Land and People”.

The Holy Father was scheduled to undertake his pastoral visit to South Sudan alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

On June 12, Pope Francis said he is praying to reschedule his Apostolic trip to DRC and the ecumenical visit to South Sudan “as soon as possible”.

He expressed optimism and asked the people of God to join him in praying for the realization of the trip.

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If realized, Pope Francis’ journey will be the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan and the third Papal trip to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

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.