, 19 March, 2020 / 4:13 AM
Pope Francis has appointed the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also known as Propaganda Fide, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as his special envoy at the Third National Eucharistic Congress in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) scheduled to take place in June.
The June 7-14 Congress, the third for the Church in DRC, is expected to be held in Lubumbashi, a southeastern copper-mining town. The first one was held in Kisantu, in the western part of the country in 1933 followed by the one in the capital, Kinshasa in 1980.
The Bishops in the Central African nation under their umbrella body, the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (CENCO) had expressed their desire to see Pope Francis grace the spiritual event.
“We wish to see the Holy Father Pope Francis take part in these meetings; it would be a good thing for us.” Congolese Bishop Melchisédech Sikuli Paluku said last September while sensitizing the faithful about the Congress.
However, in an interview with UN Radio, the then Papal representative in DRC, Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor announced that the Holy Father’s visit would not happen until after elections for fear that the visit would be used for political mileage.
The Pope wanted to come, the Nuncio had said and explained, “The Holy See has made it clear to the Congolese authorities that his visit is conditioned on the organization of the elections which are established by its constitution.”
“Before that (election), there is a danger of manipulation and exploitation of the Holy Father’s visit, either to support the continuation of an illegitimate government or for those who hope to expel the regime according to the popular movements,” he added.
The appointment of Cardinal Tagle to represent Pope Francis at the Congress was made public Wednesday, March 18 at the Vatican and published by the Holy See Press Office.
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Tagle, while serving the Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, as the head of Propaganda Fide Prefect in December 2019, taking over from Fernando Cardinal Filoni.
The 62-year-old Filipino Prelate doubles as the President of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.
He is also the President of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF), which is the "Catholic world fellowship of administratively distinct international and local organizations committed to biblical pastoral ministry." The federation is divided into regions and subregions, including Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Oceania, North America, and Latin America. He was unanimously elected during the October 2014 ordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of CBF and had his election confirmed by Pope Francis in March 2015, taking over from Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.
In a bid to popularize the DRC June Congress among the faithful, Bishop Sikuli described the spiritual gathering as “an opportunity to show our faith in the Eucharist, which is the sign of the presence of the dead and risen Jesus, who is in our midst.”
The Local Ordinary of DR Congo’s Butembo-Beni diocese further described the Congress as a “great ecclesial event of high spiritual significance,” which will be “a strong time of prayer and spiritual renewal” for the Church-Family of God in the DRC.
According to Catholic Encyclopedia, Eucharistic Congresses are gatherings of Church leaders and lay faithful for the purpose of celebrating and glorifying the Holy Eucharist and of seeking the best means to spread its knowledge and love throughout the world.
To be convened under the theme, “Eucharist and Family,” the DRC Congress will be “a public, solemn and community manifestation of the faith to which all the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church as well as men and women of goodwill are invited,” the 68-year-old Congolese Prelate said last September.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa