“Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope”: Pope Francis to Congolese, South Sudanese

Pope Francis sends a video message to the people of DRC and South Sudan, 2 July 2022./ Screenshot: Vatican News YouTube channel.

Pope Francis has urged the people of God in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan not to let themselves “be robbed of hope” despite his decision to postpone his pastoral trip to the two African nations.

In a video message released Saturday, July 2, the day he was to start his third African pastoral visit, the Holy Father says he is “greatly disappointed” over having to postpone his visit to Africa.

“Today, as you know, I had planned to come on a pilgrimage of peace and reconciliation in your lands,” the Holy Father says in his message.

He shares his disappointment over the decision to postpone the trip and expresses the hope to realize it “as soon as possible”.

“The Lord knows how greatly disappointed I am to have had to postpone this long awaited and much-desired visit. But we remain confident and hopeful that we shall be able to meet as soon as possible,” Pope Francis says in the just under 3min video message.


In words of encouragement to the Congolese and South Sudanese, the Holy Father encourages them to place their hope in God.

“Dear Congolese and South Sudanese friends, at this time words are insufficient to convey to you my closeness and the affection that I feel for you,” he says, and adds, “I want to tell you this: do not let yourselves be robbed of hope.”

He continues, “Think, you who are so dear to me, of how much more you are precious and beloved in the eyes of God, who never disappoints those who put their hope in him.”

On June 10, Matteo Bruni, the Holy See Press Office Director, announced the postponement of the Holy Father’s third visit to Africa that had been unveiled end May, saying Pope Francis’ decision to postpone the trip was “at the request of his doctors”, and that it would take place at “a later date to be determined”.

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

More in Africa

The 85-year-old Pontiff is suffering from a torn ligament in his right knee, a situation that has limited 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.

In his July 2 message, Pope Francis told the people of God in DRC and South Sudan that he has thought of them more than ever “particularly in these weeks”, especially for the “sufferings you have endured for far, far too long”.

“I would like to tell you that, particularly in these weeks, you have been that much closer to my heart. I carry within me, in prayer, the pain that you have endured for all too long,” he says in his July 2 message.

Focusing on the Central African nation, the Holy Father says, “I think of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the exploitation, violence and insecurity from which it suffers, particularly in the East of the country, where armed conflicts continue to cause much intense suffering, aggravated by the indifference and the convenience of many.”

Then turning his attention to East-Central African nation, he reaffirms his desire to contribute to the realization of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) “by making an ecumenical pilgrimage” alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.


“I think of South Sudan and the plea for peace arising from its people who, weary of violence and poverty, await concrete results from the process of national reconciliation,” Pope Francis says.

He adds, “I would like to contribute to that process, not alone, but by making an ecumenical pilgrimage together with two dear brothers, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.”

The Holy Father goes on to urge the people of God in DRC and South Sudan to be part of the peace processes for progress in their respective countries in a mission that needs to be undertaken in togetherness. 

He says, “You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders: it is that of turning a page in order to blaze new trails, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of serene coexistence and of development. It is a mission that you must take up together.”

The mission that the Congolese and South Sudanese political leaders have to spearhead, the Pope says, “entails looking to the future, looking to the many young people in your lands, so rich in promise and yet so troubled, in order to offer them a brighter future.”

(Story continues below)

“The young dream and they deserve to see those dreams come true, to see days of peace. For their sake, above all, it is necessary to lay down arms, to overcome all resentment, and to write new pages of fraternity,” he adds.

Pope Francis also reminds the people of God in South Sudan and DRC that the tears they lift to Heaven “are not in vain”, since God has plans of peace for them. 

“The consolation of God will come, because he has plans of peace and not of woe,” he says, adding, “Even now, as I look forward to meeting you, I ask that God’s peace fill your hearts.”

“As I await the opportunity to see your faces, to feel at home in your lively Christian communities, to embrace all of you with my presence and to bless your lands, my prayers and my affection for you and your peoples, become all the more intense,” Pope Francis says in his July 2 video message.

He concludes, “I send you my heartfelt blessing and I ask all of you, please, to continue to pray for me. Thank you and… see you soon.”

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.