Pope Francis landed in the Democratic Republic of Congo Tuesday, hailing his “beautiful trip” to Africa as he comes bearing a message of peace to the conflict-torn nation and its troubled neighbour South Sudan.
Large crowds of well-wishers gathered at Kinshasa’s Ndjili airport, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the centre, to greet the Argentine pontiff, whose plane touched down at 2:35 pm local time (1:45 pm GMT).
“We’ve been waiting for a year, it’s a beautiful trip,” the 86-year-old pope told reporters travelling aboard his plane.
It is the first time since 1985 that a pope has visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, a desperately poor country of about 100 million people, 40 percent of whom are Catholic.
“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see him face to face,” Maggie Kayembe, a woman in her thirties, told AFP as she waited for the pope. “He always preaches peace wherever he goes, and peace, we really need it,” she added.
The six-day trip to DRC and South Sudan had been planned for July 2022, but postponed due to the pontiff’s knee pain that has forced him in recent months to use a wheelchair. Read more