After postponing July's Africa trip, Francis plans a Mass with the Congolese community of Rome.
“We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s,” Pope Francis assured the Missionaries of Africa on June 13, 2022, when he announced that he would celebrate Mass with the Congolese community in Rome on July 3. On that date, the Pope was scheduled to celebrate Sunday Mass in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the program established for his trip to Africa, which has been postponed because of his ailing knee.
Unfortunately, “with great regret,” said the Pontiff addressing the priestly congregation known as the White Fathers he was receiving on the occasion of their General Chapter, “I had to postpone the trip to Congo and South Sudan. Indeed, at my age it is not so easy to go on a mission!”
But the Pope said he is confident of being able to visit these peoples eventually, whom he carries “in his heart.”
He then announced that he would celebrate a Mass with the Congolese community in Rome: “On July 3, the day I should have celebrated in Kinshasa, we will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s. And there we will celebrate with all the Congolese in Rome, who are many.”
On December 1, 2019, the Argentine Pontiff presided over a Mass with some 1,500 Congolese in the Vatican Basilica. This celebration took place in the Zairian rite, the Congolese adaptation of the Roman liturgical rite approved in 1988. This rite that interests the Pope: this liturgy “suggests a promising path also for the possible elaboration of an Amazonian rite,” he wrote in the preface of a book.
Without gratitude, there is no hope
In his speech to the White Fathers, the Bishop of Rome hoped that they would know how to “say ‘thank you’ to God and to their brothers.” And he warned, “Whoever does not know how to thank God for the gifts He has sown along the way – though tiring and sometimes painful – does not have a spirit of hope, open to God’s surprises and confident in His providence.”
“Be apostles, nothing but apostles!” the Pontiff asked them, quoting their founder, Cardinal Charles Lavigerie.
To these missionaries present in countries of first evangelization or Muslim majority, the head of the Catholic Church gave the example of the French saint Charles de Foucauld, canonized last May 15, calling them to return to the “essential core” of prayer and brotherhood.
There are some 1,115 White Fathers of 35 nationalities in the world, including nearly 600 in Africa. The General Chapter of the congregation, which began in Rome on May 16 for five weeks, will elect a new General Council.