Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, tells Pope Francis at the end of Mass that his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo is a “sign of love” for the people of the DRC and an encouragement to hold “free, transparent, inclusive, and peaceful elections” later in the year.
By Fr. Jacques Ngol, SJ
During the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Wednesday at the N’dolo airport in Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, expressed his joy at welcoming the Holy Father and conveyed to him the joy of all the Christian faithful.
Encouragement and hope for a just Congo
“You are visiting us in a particular and unique context of our people’s history,” the Cardinal said.
“Congo is a potentially rich country; Its mostly young population is predominantly Christian,” he said. “The Congolese people are facing a multifaceted crisis, armed conflicts, especially in the east of the country, economic crisis and social misery” and are a “people who suffer in body and soul.”
However, he reassured, despite this “unjust suffering, the Congolese remain a confident and hopeful people.”
Cardinal Ambongo expressed his hopes that Pope Francis’ visit, beyond being “the expression of consideration and attachment to a people, its land and its culture,” will bring “encouragement and comfort” this people weakened by the multiple conflicts.
It also shows that “we are present in your prayers, in your thoughts and in your heart”; and this spiritual closeness, reassured the Archbishop of Kinshasa, “touches us in our very depths.”
The Pope’s visit, he continued, comes as general elections are scheduled for 20 December 2023, which he added risk becoming “a source of political and social tension in this country.”
This message brought by the Holy Father – “All reconciled in Christ” – is therefore a reason for hope for the holding of a “free, transparent, democratic, inclusive and peaceful election.”
Holy Father’s visit a reason for joy
Continuing his address, Cardinal Ambongo reiterated the joy of the Christian faithful in welcoming the Pope to their land.
Through this visit and this Eucharistic celebration, everyone feels visited and strengthened in their faith, he added.
This celebration is a sign of hope, he insisted, and the people will be able to obtain the grace of a true and lasting peace so desired for our country.
“I nourish the hope that this Eucharist that you have just presided over will dedicate us more to Christ in whom we are all reconciled,” concluded Cardinal Ambongo.