Pope Francis’ Visit to “strengthen faith, hope, charity” of Congolese: Catholic Archbishop

Students at the Ndjili Airport to welcome Pope Francis to DR Congo. Credit: ACI Africa

The Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is to “strengthen the faith, hope and charity” of the people of God in the Central African nation, the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) has told ACI Africa.

In a Monday, January 30 interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa said, “The Congolese people and civil authorities are filled with joy with the arrival of the Pope and are already eager to warmly welcome the Holy Father from Rome.”

“Pope Francis is coming to strengthen the faith, hope and charity of the people of God spread throughout the world, so that all of us may be reconciled in Jesus Christ, to whom we have become brothers and in him we are members of one family,” Archbishop Utembi said, and recalled the emphasis about fraternity that the Holy Father makes in his October 2020 Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti.

The pastoral visit of the Holy Father, the Local Ordinary of DRC’s Kisangani Archdiocese told ACI Africa, “is within the framework of his mission as received from God as the Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church, despite his state of health.” 

Pope Francis arrived in Kinshasa on January 31 in the afternoon, the first stop of his Apostolic journey to DRC and 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.

After the official welcome of the Holy Father in DRC at Ndjili international airport in Kinshasa, a 15-minute welcome ceremony was conducted at the "Palais de la Nation" in Kinshasa as had been outlined in the program and itinerary that the Vatican unveiled.

In the January 30 interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Utembi said Pope Francis’ pastoral visit is to have “a very important social, political and economic impact”.

“We expect the Pope to make a plea for atrocities and insecurity in our country, of which many innocent people are victims,” he said.

He added that the plans for the Holy Father to receive the victims of the massacres in Eastern DRC are meant “to invite the international community to abandon its hypocrisy in the face of all the injustice suffered by the people in this part of our country.”

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Pope Francis is expected to invite the whole of humanity “to live in respect for human life and to cultivate peace,” Archbishop Utembi further said.

He continued, “Reconciliation is a matter for everyone and it is offered to all the Congolese people in all the realities that they live in the church, in society, in the family, and even in political institutions.” 

The Congolese Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 2002 as Bishop of DRC’s Mahagi-Nioka Diocese urged pilgrims in the country “to come and participate massively in the Eucharistic celebration that the Pope will celebrate on Wednesday 1 February 2023 at the Ndolo Airport, which has now been transformed into an open cathedral to welcome millions of Congolese.”

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.