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Pope Francis travels to Congo and South Sudan on a 'pilgrimage of peace'

Pope Francis visits the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on the eve of his 40th Apostolic Journey abroad (Photo credit Vatican News)

Pope Francis is embarking on his 40th Apostolic Journey abroad with the departure from Rome on Tuesday morning on a 6-day Apostolic visit (January 31 – February 5).

The Papal visit to these African countries is a “pilgrim of peace,” bringing a message of reconciliation and hope with him.

On the eve of his departure,  Pope Francis entrusted his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of South Sudan into the hands of Mother Mary at the Saint Mary Major Basilica on Monday afternoon.

Pope Francis wrote to the people of both countries before his departure that the DRC, especially in the east, "suffers from armed clashes and exploitation" and that South Sudan has been "wracked by years of war" and "longs for an end to the constant violence that forces many people to be displaced and to live in conditions of great hardship."

This Papal visit to DRC will be the first visit of a Pope to this country since 1985.

When the late Pope John Paul II visited this state, it was known then as Zaire.

The Pope will visit the DRC from January 31 to February 3.

According to the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has about 101.8 million population. The Pew Research Center reported that about 95.8 percent of the country’s population is Christian and about 47.3 percent of the nation’s population is Catholic.

The second part of the journey will be the first-ever papal visit to South Sudan.

On Friday, Pope Francis plans to travel to South Sudan until February 5 for a visit that seeks to help restore hope in this country.

According to Vatican News, about 52 percent of South Sudan’s population is Catholic. Its population is about 10.9 million as of 2022. - With inputs from Vatican News


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