Roman Catholic Pope Francis told Catholic Church leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo that they can help fight the injustice that has long ravaged the African region. This is the third day of his trip to Africa.
Pope Francis presided over a prayer and delivered a speech at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Congo in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Thursday (February 2). The audience included many priests, deacons, consecrated persons and seminarians in the Congo. He told his audience that they reminded him of the difficulties they faced: living in such a rich and beautiful country while being victimized by “exploitation, corruption, violence and injustice”.
A group of protesters gathered outside the church as Pope Francis arrived, urging him to address sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and punish those responsible. They held up banners urging the Pope to use the law to stop sexual abuse.
Tim Law, founder of the Network of Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Priests (SNAP), told reporters they were there to press the Pope to take action on a high-profile case. In this case, a 14-year-old girl was raped by a priest, but the bishop covered it up. He said the nun and the priest who reported the incident had been expelled, in violation of the pope’s own order that whistleblowers must be protected. “If he enforces this rule, he sends a message that he cares for Africa’s children,” said Tim Law, who was
speaking to tens of thousands of young people gathered at the Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa earlier Thursday. He urged them not to be discouraged and to continue fighting corruption.
The pope continued his African tour by heading to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on Friday. South Sudan gained independence from Muslim-majority Sudan in 2011 after a long period of violent conflict, becoming a Christian-dominated country.
Officials said more than 5,000 security personnel were on duty in preparation for the religious visit.