Papal Visit “expression of compassion, solidarity with Congolese people”: State Official

Patrick Muyaya Katembwe during the January 23 press conference. Credit: CENCO

The planned Papal visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) set to begin at the end of this month is an expression of Pope Francis’ thoughtfulness and solidarity with the people of God in the Central African nation, the Minister in charge of Communication and Media in the country has said.

Addressing journalists on Monday, January 23 on preparations for the January 31-February 3 Papal visit, Patrick Muyaya Katembwe said the visit is “historic because it is not common to receive a visit from the Holy Father. The last one was in 1985.”

“For us it is an event that will symbolize many things because you know that the Pope is closely following the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and he regularly speaks about the need for peace,” the DRC government spokesperson said.

He added, “The Holy Father prays for the Congolese people and the fact that he is being received in our country is quite a historic event, but also symbolic because the Pope's visit is also an expression of compassion.”

“It is also an expression of solidarity with the Congolese people who have long been battered by violence,” Minister Muyaya said, and added, “As a government, we are privileged to be here at this time and to organize the visit of the Pontiff.”


On 1 December 2022, officials of the Holy See Press Office announced that Pope Francis’ rescheduled visit would begin in DRC from January 31, and conclude with an “Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace in South Sudan”.

The Holy Father had planned to visit the Eastern city of Goma when the trip was officially announced, but that leg of the trip was canceled in the latest schedule that the Vatican released amid insecurity in Eastern DRC.

In his first leg of the two-African-nation trip, the Holy Father will first travel to Kinshasa, where he will meet with the country’s authorities, victims of the conflict in the Eastern part of the country and representatives of charitable organizations, celebrate Holy Mass, meet with young people, Catholic Bishops, and Jesuits in DRC. 

In his January 23 address to journalists, Minister Muyaya said, “We would have loved it if, as was planned a few months ago, the Pope had gone to Goma, because that would have been symbolically strong for the people who live in this area, which is sometimes is wrongly presented as the epicenter of violence.”

“But the simple fact that he is coming to the capital, we consider that it is a way of communing with the Congolese people wherever they are, because you know that the Pope, because of his age, has had some health problems,” the government spokesperson said.

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He further said, “If the Pope cannot come to Goma, Goma will invite itself to Kinshasa to allow this exchange between the Pope and the people directly affected.”

“Kinshasa will be the real capital on that day, where all the Congolese will come from all the provinces, not only to attend the Pope's Mass, but particularly for the people who are directly affected by the violence the Pope will reserve a moment of prayer and compassion for the victims of the various acts of violence,” Minister Muyaya continued. 

Speaking about preparations for the visit, the Minister said that all will be set by January 25 for the arrival of the Holy Father, adding that the various commissions are finalizing their preparations ahead of the visit.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo is known for its sense of hospitality to the Congolese population and reserves, a warm welcome to the Pontiff,” the DRC government spokesperson said.

He added, “When you receive a messenger who brings you a message of peace, support and comfort, you have to welcome him in the best possible way through songs, praises and through participation in all the religious services that are planned.”


“This is the way for the Congolese of today, the contemporaries of today, to write history when the Pope will once again DRC. We must mobilize to ensure that we immortalize this great event for our families and loved ones,” Minister Muyaya told journalists in Kinshasa January 23.

In the program and itinerary that the Vatican unveiled at the beginning of last month, the Holy Father is to realize the “Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace” in the world’s youngest nation alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, from February 3-5.

When realized, the pastoral trip to the two African countries will mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa and the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan.

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.