| 28 February 2024, Wednesday |

Pope Francis plans to visit DR Congo, South Sudan in July: Vatican

In July, Pope Francis will travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, according to Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni.

From July 2 to 5, the 85-year-old pontiff will go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, stopping in Kinshasa and Goma in the eastern province of North Kivu.

Bruni stated in a brief statement that he will be in South Sudan from July 5 to 7, and that he will visit the capital Juba.

The Vatican stated the trip was organized “at the invitation of their respective heads of state and bishops,” so security is expected to be high on both legs.

In the east of the DRC, where roughly 40% of the estimated 90 million people are Catholic, dozens of armed factions are fighting in the east of the vast nation.

The last time a pope visited Kinshasa was in August 1985, when John Paul II stayed for two days.

Meanwhile, since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has been plagued by chronic instability, including a horrific five-year civil conflict.

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has visited Africa four times.

In 2015, he traveled to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic; in 2017, he traveled to Egypt; and two years later, he traveled to Morocco first, followed by a week-long trip to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius.

The journey to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the pope’s second announced for this year, following his trip to Malta in early April.

  • AFP