Pope Francis’ DR Congo and South Sudan itinerary unveiled

Jude Atemanke   By Jude Atemanke for CNA


Pope Francis greets South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir at the Vatican on March 16, 2019. / Vatican Media.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 30, 2022 / 02:17 am (CNA).

The Vatican unveiled on Saturday the itinerary of Pope Francis’ visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.

The pope’s trip to Africa will begin in the DRC’s capital city, Kinshasa, on July 2 and conclude on July 7 in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

According to the program published on May 28, the first leg of Pope Francis’ 37th foreign visit will see him land at Kinshasa N’djili international airport on July 2, followed by a welcome ceremony at the Palais de la Nation, the official residence of the president of the DRC in Kinshasa.

The 85-year-old pope will proceed to the Presidential Suite for a courtesy visit to DRC President Félix Tshisekedi.

This will be followed by a meeting with authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in the garden of the Palais de la Nation.

Day one of the DRC trip will conclude with a private meeting with members of the Society of Jesus at the apostolic nunciature.

The pope will begin his second day in DRC, July 3, by presiding over Mass at Ndolo Airport in Kinshasa.

In the evening, he will meet with bishops, priests, religious, and seminarians at Our Lady of the Congo Cathedral in Kinshasa.

The official logos for Pope Francis’ to the DRC and South Sudan. Vatican Media.
The official logos for Pope Francis’ to the DRC and South Sudan. Vatican Media.

On July 4, the pope will fly to the city of Goma in North Kivu, a province in the far east of the DRC. He will celebrate Mass at midday at the Kibumba refugee camp.

In the early evening, he will meet with victims of the violence in Beni, northeastern DRC, and the east of the DRC at the Goma Diocesan Welcome Center, before returning to Kinshasa.

On the morning of July 5, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with young people and catechists at Kinshasa’s Stade des Martyrs.

Following a farewell ceremony at N’djili Airport, he will leave for South Sudan on what the Vatican is calling an Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to the South Sudanese Land and People.

The pope will be received at Juba International Airport in a welcome ceremony, before proceeding to the Presidential Palace for a courtesy visit to President Salva Kiir.

He will then meet with the vice presidents of South Sudan.

In the last official activity of his first day in South Sudan, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with the authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in the garden of the Presidential Palace.

On July 6, the pope is expected to visit internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a camp in Juba.

He is then scheduled to meet privately with Jesuits in South Sudan at the apostolic nunciature.

Pope Francis will meet with bishops, members of the clergy, religious, and seminarians at St. Theresa Cathedral in the late afternoon.

The evening of July 6 will see the pope participate in an ecumenical prayer service alongside the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Right Rev. Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, at the John Garang Mausoleum in Juba.

The same venue is scheduled to host Mass on the morning of July 7, the last day of the trip.

After a morning farewell ceremony at Juba International Airport, Pope Francis will leave for Rome.

The July 2-7 pastoral trip will mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

The journey will be the first papal visit to South Sudan, which became an independent state in 2011, and the third papal trip to the DRC, which is home to Africa’s largest Catholic population.

This is an edited version of a report first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.

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