DRC: Archdiocese of Bukavu plans 30 June Independence Day thanksgiving Mass.

The Archdiocese of Bukavu said the special Mass is part of preparations for the visit of Pope Francis and as a way of expressing solidarity with the country’s military who have spent years fighting rebels in the area.

Stanislas Kambashi, SJ – Vatican City.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will celebrate Independence Day a few days before Pope Francis’ visit.

The DRC became an independent nation on 30 June 1960. As part of preparations for the Pope’s visit to the DRC, the Archdiocese of Bukavu will celebrate a special Mass on the eve of Independence Day. The diocese will pray, in particular, for peace and show solidarity with the country’s armed forces, who are battling various rebel movements in the eastern part of the country.  

“30 June 2022, thanksgiving and prayers for our homeland.” This will be the theme of the Eucharist to be celebrated in the province of South Kivu, eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Men and women who love peace and justice

Invited to the Eucharistic celebration are political, administrative, military and security authorities “who love this country as well as Christians, men and women of goodwill who love peace and justice,” reads Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo’s Pastoral Statement announcing the Mass.

According to the statement made available to Vatican News, the collection of the day in all the parishes and communities of the diocese will be given to the “valiant soldiers defending the country,” said the Archbishop.

Tribute to the country’s brave sons and daughters

After the Mass, the clergy will lead the congregation in procession from the Cathedral to the city’s Cenotaph, opposite the office of the Provincial Governor. The procession will culminate in a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of the “valiant sons and daughters of this country who died in defence of the nation and humanity.”

DRC determined to welcome Pope Francis

In the Pastoral Statement, the Archbishop of Bukavu reiterates the message of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo, CENCO, of 27 May 2022 on the security situation in the region. In it, the Bishops of DRC asked the Congolese people to encourage the national army currently battling rebels in the very province that Pope Francis will visit.

Pope Francis will be in the area on the first leg of his visit before he proceeds to South Sudan. The visit to the DRC’s troubled region, from 2 July to 5 July, is seen as an ecumenical pilgrimage to promote peace. The Pope will be accompanied by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields.