Tue 31 January 2023:
In his first public address while in the country, Pope Francis called a stop to the “exploitation” of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the entire African continent.
“It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation. Political exploitation gave way to an ‘economic colonialism’ that was equally enslaving,” the pontiff told politicians, civil society representatives and diplomats in Kinshasa.
Because it has been plundered, he said, the continent has not benefited from its resources and mineral wealth. “Hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo! Hands off Africa!” Francis said.
“Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered. May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny!”
Francis had taken a car from the airport to the city center before the speech at the presidential palace. Hundreds of thousands of people cheered the leader of the Catholic Church and his entourage as they queued in line for miles.
More than a million worshippers are anticipated to attend Francis’ mass on Wednesday morning at a military airfield.
His trip to DRC and then South Sudan will highlight the long-running conflicts in both countries and the rising importance of Africa to the future of the Catholic Church. Africa is the fastest-growing location for the Church, with more than 200 million worshippers, but the continent remains under-represented in Vatican leadership.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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