Our Editorial Director says Pope Francis’ first address in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a wake-up call for foreign powers to cease exploiting the lands and peoples of the African continent.
By Andrea Tornielli – Kinshasa, DRC
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country “immense and full of life,” the diaphragm of the planet after the Amazon due to the extent of its tropical forests, which is being greedily plundered. The country so full of natural resources has been “struck by violence like a blow to the stomach,” and “has seemed for some time to be gasping for breath.”
After being greeted by thousands of people of all ages who thronged the road from N’djili airport to the center of the capital, Kinshasa, Pope Francis delivered his first message to DR Congo and all of Africa.
In the garden of the Palais de la Nation, seated next to President Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the Pope expressed his support for the people of the DRC as they resist attempts to break up the country which has been crisscrossed by violence.
He recalled once again the exploitation to which Congo, and the entire African continent more generally, is continually subjected.
“Political exploitation gave way to an ‘economic colonialism’ that was equally enslaving,” he said.
Pope Francis said this form of exploitation has proven more insidious and less conspicuous, as it strips freedom and self-determination from the people of Africa.
In DR Congo, added the Pope, the paradox has arisen in which “the riches of its land have made it ‘foreign’ to its very inhabitants.”
“The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,” he said. “This is a tragedy to which the economically more advanced world often closes its eyes, ears and mouth.”
Embracing exploited peoples
Pope Francis has long sought to visit this nation to embrace its people so sorely tried by conflict and poverty, in order to remind the world of the forgotten conflicts that make up the ever-expanding pieces of World War III, as well as the outcomes of an economic-financial system that “kills” because at its center is not man but the god of money.
“This country and this continent deserve to be respected and listened to; they deserve to find space and receive attention,” he decried. “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.”