The Pope in DRC: A sign of comfort and peace for the people of Goma.
Stanislas Kambashi, SJ and Vatican News English Africa Service - Vatican City.
For the people of the DRC, the visit of Pope Francis will be a sign of comfort, peace and encouragement, especially for the eastern part of the DRC.
The Nyiragongo volcano
Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele M.Afr., of the Diocese of Goma, says the apostolic visit will be a moment of grace and blessing.
Nevertheless, Pope Francis will find a region and a people reeling from insecurity and natural disasters -not to mention the challenges of Covid-19.
On the afternoon of 22 May 2021, the city of Goma and its surroundings in North Kivu Province experienced a sudden eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. According to reports at the time, close to 40 000 persons around Nyiragongo were displaced. About 32 were reported killed. Of these, 7 000 fled into neighbouring Rwanda.
The killings, displacements and kidnappings
Exactly one year ago, in March 2021, the Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo, no doubt fed up with the senseless killings by rebel groups in the eastern part of the country, issued a scathing pastoral statement.
“The security situation in our country, especially in the eastern part, remains precarious and is worsened by the recurring presence of armed groups that the National Army, supported by the United Nations Organisation Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), is still not able to eradicate. The massacre of populations, kidnappings and displacement of people, in North Kivu and Ituri, and recently the despicable assassination of the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo with his bodyguard and driver sufficiently demonstrate this (sense of hopelessness felt by the people),” said the Bishops.
The visit will bring us peace and justice
The Pope’s visit will certainly help shed light on a region, in some sense forgotten by the international community, notwithstanding the presence of UN peacekeepers.
“The Holy Father is coming because he has compassion for us, he knows our situation; for he is a father animated by his love for us. May his visit help us be reconciled among ourselves, in order to work together to restore social justice, peace and charity,” said the Bishop of Goma.
He added, “We are in a situation where we need a word of consolation, reconciliation, peace and solidarity,” said Bishop Ngumbi.
The Holy See Press Office announced on Thursday that Pope Francis would make an apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo, from 2 to 5 July, visiting the cities of Kinshasa and Goma. The Holy Father will then travel to South Sudan from 5 to 7 July, visiting the capital, Juba.