VATICAN, JANUARY 27, 2023 (CISA)- Ahead of the papal visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the ecumenical peace pilgrimage to the Republic of South Sudan on January 31 and February 3 respectively, the Holy See has released the demographics of the Catholic Church in both countries as of December 31, 2021.
The data released by the Vatican Central Office for Church Statistics include population and ecclesiastical structure, People engaged in activities of the apostolate, Indicators of pastoral workload, Priestly vocations, educational centres owned/managed by ecclesiastics or religious, and Charitable and social centres owned/managed by ecclesiastics or religious.
The data presented indicates that in South Sudan there is more pastoral workload at 24, 083 Catholics per priest as compared to DRC at 8,466. There are also more priestly vocations in DRC than in South Sudan.
The reality, however, is that the role of the Catholic Church in both countries cannot be underestimated, the Church is involved in the social welfare of the people including education, healthcare, empowerment, housing and other programs geared towards assisting the poor, unemployed and marginalized in society.
Today, both countries are struggling with spiralling conflict ranging from political instability, civil wars, corruption and hunger that has forced regional countries and associations from the East African Community (EAC) to get involved.
The visit by Pope Francis to DRC will be the first papal visit to the country since St. Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1985, and in South Sudan, it will be a maiden visit by a Supreme Pontiff to Africa’s youngest nation plagued by war since her independence in 2011.
The theme for the papal visit to DR Congo is “All reconciled in Jesus Christ”.