Cardinal Parolin at Mass in Kinshasa: ‘May peace return to DRC’

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin celebrates Mass in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and appeals for Congolese to overcome division and work toward peace.

By Salvatore Cernuzio – Kinshasa, DRC

"Greed for raw materials and the thirst for money and power slam the doors on peace and represent an attack on people's right to life and serenity... Peace upon this house! Peace upon the Congolese land: May you return to being a house of fraternity!"

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke those words as he celebrated Mass in front of the House of Parliament in Kinshasa.

Around 100,000 Congolese faithful took part in the Mass, which was held at around the same time on Sunday as Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Rome’s Congolese community.

Cardinal Parolin offered the Pope’s closeness to the people of the DRC, since he was forced to postpone his Apostolic Journey due to treatment of severe knee pain.

Children welcome Cardinal Parolin
Children welcome Cardinal Parolin

Welcomed by Bishops and children

The Cardinal was welcomed to the Parliament esplanade by Bishops, priests, and children who would receive their First Communion.

As he processed to the altar, lively and joyful liturgical music filled the air.

Cardinal Parolin opened his homily with the words "peace, brotherhood, and joy” in French.

"These are the hopes and dreams which we seek to embrace,” he said, "but which unfortunately we experience only with difficulty during these times of instability and conflict. They are the promises of the Kingdom of God in search of fulfillment, promises that we yearn for internally.”

The Cardinal said God created us with a longing for peace, “which is not just a brief interval between wars, for a concrete experience of fraternity, and for a joy that is full and overflowing.”

Cardinal Parolin with several Bishops
Cardinal Parolin with several Bishops

‘Never resign yourselves’

He noted that people in the DRC face difficult issues, including joblessness, pollution, and fierce violence in the country’s east, and urged Congolese not to give in to “resignation” and “discouragement”.

"The temptation today is to give up in the face of reality, to close oneself off in a fatalistic resignation and, perhaps without realizing it, to run away from one's responsibilities, falling into a kind of victimization, while leaving others with the burden of carrying out the effort to rebuild.”

Instead, said the Cardinal Secretary of State, “God is at work”, helping us to put aside loneliness, sadness, and disappointment.

"God calls us to look to the future together and united, overcoming any spirit of partiality, any division of ethnicity,” he said.

Cardinal Parolin recalled that God can help us face “any trial, because He is not distant, but walks with us. His steps do not make noise, but open paths. Each day that passes does not represent yet another disappointment, but the drawing near of His promise of peace."

Cardinal Parolin greets a woman in a wheelchair
Cardinal Parolin greets a woman in a wheelchair

Peace threatened in the east of DRC

"Paix. Peace," the Cardinal repeated, as he turned his thoughts to the eastern part of the DRC.

In those areas, "peace is continually threatened by armed groups and by exploitation and predatory interests, of which the country has long been a victim,” said Cardinal Parolin. “The lust for raw materials and the thirst for money and power close the doors on peace, and represent an attack on people's right to life and serenity.”

Jesus, he said, instead “continues to send us, His disciples, to repeat the same words: Peace upon this house! Peace upon the Congolese land: return to being a house of fraternity!"

The Cardinal then invited Christian, which make up the vast majority of the DRC’s population, to work with their leaders for peace “in this great country, which blessed by the beauty of creation, but above all by the richness of the people that populate it."

Embrace on behalf of the Pope

Cardinal Parolin wrapped up his homily with an expression of Pope Francis’ nearness, which he had sent in a video message on Saturday that was projected on giant screens before the Mass.

"Do not be discouraged if the expectations of good seem to you a dead letter,” he said. “Our names are already written in heaven, for we are children of the resurrection and witnesses of hope!"

03 July 2022, 15:04