Pope to DRC & South Sudan: ‘Never give up hope!’
By Devin Watkins
On the same day he was scheduled to begin his Apostolic Journey, Pope Francis sent his greetings to the people of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Pope’s Apostolic Journey was postponed due to severe knee pain, and he has sent Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in his stead until he can make the journey himself.
In a video message sent on Saturday, the Pope expressed his deep sorrow for having had to put off the visit.
Pope Francis told the people of DRC and South Sudan that he has thought of them more than ever in recent weeks, especially for the “sufferings you have endured for far, far too long.”
He turned his thoughts first to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Pope lamented the “exploitation, violence, and insecurity you suffer, particularly in the east of the country, where armed clashes continue, causing countless and dramatic sufferings, exacerbated by the indifference and self-interests of so many.”
Turning to South Sudan, the Pope took note of the “cry for peace” and the many people who are “tired of violence and poverty and await concrete results from the process of national reconciliation”.
He said he wishes to contribute to that process through an “ecumenical pilgrimage together with my two dear brothers: the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.”
Hope never disappoints
The Pope then offered the people of the two African nations a word of encouragement.
God, he added, never disappoints those who put their hope in Him.
New page for young people
Pope Francis also reminded them of their important mission, beginning with the two nations’ politicians.
He said they must “turn the page to open up new paths of reconciliation, forgiveness, serene coexistence, and development.”
“This is a mission to take on with an eye to the future and to the many young people who fill your lush and wounded lands, filling them with light and possibilities,” he said.
Young people, added the Pope, “dream and deserve to see their dreams come true and to see days of peace; for them in particular we must lay down our arms, overcome resentment, and write new pages of fraternity.”
God’s plans for peace
Finally, Pope Francis reminded the people of South Sudan and DRC that the tears they lift to Heaven “are not in vain”, since God has plans of peace for them.
The Pope concluded his video message with a blessing for all the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.