By Arnold Neliba
VATICAN, DECEMBER 2, 2022 (CISA)-Pope Francis will travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to South Sudan from January 31 to February 5 2023.
A Thursday November 1 announcement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Pope had accepted the invitation of the countries respective Heads of State and Bishops.
“Accepting the invitation of their respective Heads of State and Bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will make the announced Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo from 31 January to 3 February 2023, visiting the city of Kinshasa, and, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace to Juba, South Sudan, from 3 to 5 February next,” the announcement reads.
Pope Francis will first arrive in DRC on Tuesday January 31 where he will pay a courtesy visit to President Felix Tshisekedi and later hold a meeting with authorities, civil society and members of the Diplomatic corps.
On Wednesday February 1, Pope will celebrate Mass at Ndolo Airport before meeting with victims from the Eastern Part of DRC at the Apostolic Nunciature and representatives from some charities at the same venue.
On Thursday February 2, young people and catechists will have their day with the pontiff at a meeting at Martyrs Stadium before holding a prayer meeting with priests, deacons, consecrated persons and seminarians in the Cathedral Notre Dame du Congo. Thereafter on the same day, he will hold a private meeting with members of the Society of Jesus at the Apostolic Nunciature.
Pope Francis, on the final day in DRC will hold a meeting with bishops, Members of CENCO before departing to Juba South Sudan.
Similar to the June 2022 arrangements, the Vatican announced that “The Holy Father is making the Journey to South Sudan together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.”
Upon arrival in the afternoon of Friday 3, the Pope will make a courtesy visit to the President at the presidential palace and later separate meetings with the vice presidents of the Republic and the authorities, civil society and members of the diplomatic corps.
Just like in DRC, he will on February 4 meet bishops, Priests, deacons, consecrated persons and seminarians and also hold a private meeting with members of the Society of Jesus.
The official schedule has also taken into account internally displaced persons who will have an audience with the Pontiff at the Freedom Hall and thereafter hold Ecumenical Prayer at the historic John Garang’ Mausoleum.
The Apostolic visit will end on February 5 will Holy Mass at the John Garang’ Mausoleum before setting off for Rome.