The students and Father Guy Julien Muluku were detained nearly 34 hours before being released shortly before 10 p.m. on Feb. 3.
The enthusiasm, joy, and missionary zeal of Congolese Catholics give oxygen to the whole Church, Pope Francis said during his final meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.
On the World Day of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis thanked the more than 18,000 priests and religious in the Democratic Republic of Congo for serving others amid the country’s “difficult and often dangerous conditions.”
As part of his visit to Africa this week, Pope Francis met Tuesday with civil leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the largest and poorest countries on the continent. Speaking with authorities including President Félix Tshisekedi, the pope denounced the practice of child labor in the country’s many mines, a widespread problem exacerbated by an ever-increasing global demand for cobalt, a vital component of rechargeable batteries.
In a moving encounter with Pope Francis, children from eastern Congo laid down the machetes and knives used to kill their families at the foot of Christ’s cross to symbolize their forgiveness.
More than one million people attended Pope Francis’ Mass in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday morning, according to local authorities.
The pope praised the work being done to assist those in poverty and emphasized the importance of Christian charity as an integral part of the faith.
Before departing on his flight to Africa on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis met with a group of refugees and migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan at the Vatican.