Joy and deep gratitude are the feelings of the African people after the historic visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Africa is happy and grateful for this 4th apostolic visit of the Holy Father to the continent. In fact, through his visit to these two countries (Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan), Africa experienced unforgettable days with Pope Francis.
Once again, he showed the great love that he has for Africa. Even though frail, he wanted to come to us as a pilgrim of hope, and to pray with us for peace, justice and reconciliation in Africa. Africa is experiencing varied crises which are affecting many levels of existence: political, economic, security and humanitarian. Pope Francis came to unite his voice to the millions of Africans and said: ‘Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa, it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!’ ‘No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence.’ Recalling the famous phase of Saint John Paul II, Pope Francis said: ‘African solutions must be found to African problems.’
He came as a father and pastor and in this capacity, he strengthened the faith of millions of Catholics, who despite many challenges faithfully keep their faith in Jesus Christ: they suffer in Christian hope. Our joy was great as we heard the Holy Father, after presiding over the Holy Eucharist in the Roman Rite for the Dioceses of Zaire saying: ‘Yours is a Church present in the lived history of this people, deeply rooted in its daily life, and in the forefront of charity. It is a community capable of attracting others, filled with infectious enthusiasm. The Church in Africa (Congo) is a lung that helps the universal Church breathe.’
He came as a pontiff and left words that mark out the path that the Catholic Church in Africa must follow henceforward for the years to come. The ecumenical prayer led by three leaders (Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev. Justin Welby and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Most. Rev. Dr Iain Greenshields) encouraged African Christians to be one: pray together and work together.
Visiting the two African countries where most of the population is Christian and share the same fate of violence and war, taught that: ‘those who would call themselves Christians must choose which side to take. Those who choose Christ choose peace. Those who unleash war and violence betray the Lord and deny his Gospel. What Jesus teaches us is clear: we are to love everyone, since everyone is loved as a child of our common Father in Heaven. The love of Christians is not only for those close to us, but for everyone, for in Jesus each person is our neighbour, our brother or sister.’
Thank you, Holy Father, for having come to Africa again, to strengthen the faith of millions of Catholics. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, intercede for your heath and your mission, Pope Francis.