The Vatican’s envoy to Kinshasa, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, has told the BBC’s Newsday programme that Pope Francis’ visit to DR Congo is “a dream which is coming true” which has made everyone in the capital “very happy”.
Pope Francis will next week visit the country, which is home to the largest Roman Catholic community in Africa. It is more than 37 years since the previous Pope, John Paul II, visited the country – when it was called Zaire.
However, the pope arrives at a time when DR Congo is facing escalating conflict in the east of the country as government forces battle against armed groups.
The pontiff regularly talks about DR Congo and the “terrible situation” there which results in “the slaughters” of people, Archbishop Balestrero said.
He wants to “console” people and “condemn all the massacres that are ongoing” and ask God to “forgive all the blood” that is being shed, the archbishop said.
However, there has been some controversy surrounding the Catholic leader’s visit.
Some market workers in Kinshasa have been told to dismantle their stalls to make roads tidy before the pope’s arrival.This has left some people feeling aggrieved.
The archbishop said he was “sorry” for this and that the Church had no role in the authorities’ decision.