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Pope prays for migrants in greetings to journalists on papal plane

Pope Francis prays for migrants who have died while seeking to cross the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea, as he greets journalists aboard the papal plane en route to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

As he flew over the Sahara, at the start of his 40th Apostolic Journey abroad, Pope Francis asked for a prayer for people who have died trying to cross the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Pope made the request on Tuesday while aboard the papal plane bound for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As he offered words of gratitude to the more than 70 journalists on the flight, hailing from some 12 countries, the Pope said, “We pray for those people.”

While expressing gratitude to be able to make this long-desired Apostolic Journey to the DRC and South Sudan, the Holy Father also expressed disappointment to no longer be able to visit the Congolese city of Goma due to violence in the area.

Keeping with tradion, the Pope exchanged a brief greeting with each journalist, as they came up to greet him aboard the flight.

The Pope thanked the press for their work, which enables the visit to reach people around the world.

Closeness to migrants

The ITA-Airways papal flight left Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport at 8:29 AM local time Tuesday morning, carrying the Pope and more than 70 journalists.

The flight is scheduled to arrive at “Ndjili” International Airport in the DRC’s capital of Kinshasa around 3 PM local time.

On Tuesday morning, before leaving his Vatican residence at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis met with about ten migrants and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, who are supported, along with their families, by the Jesuit-run Centro Astalli in Rome. 

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Charity, accompanied the group for their visit with the Pope.

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