Vatican City, Jun 13, 2022 / 06:52 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said on Monday that he intends to celebrate Mass for Rome’s Congolese community on the day he was due to offer Mass in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The pope made the announcement on June 13, the day after he apologized for having to postpone a scheduled trip to Africa in July because of ongoing knee pain.
He said that on July 3, when he was previously scheduled to celebrate Sunday Mass at Ndolo Airport, he would seek instead offer Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Congolese in Rome, of which there are many,” he said at the start of an audience with the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.
The 85-year-old pope told participants in the international missionary society’s general chapter that he hoped to be able to make the trip at another time.
“Unfortunately, with great regret, I had to postpone the trip to Congo and South Sudan,” he said.
“Indeed, at my age, it is not so easy to go on a mission trip! But your prayers and example give me courage, and I am confident that I can visit these peoples, whom I carry in my heart.”
Pope Francis was planning to spend July 2-5 in the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, and July 5-7 in the South Sudanese capital Juba.
The Vatican announced on June 10 that due to treatment for his knee pain, the journey had to be delayed.
Speaking after the Angelus on June 12, the pope promised to reschedule the visit “as soon as possible.”
The pope has been suffering from an inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been using a wheelchair during public appearances since last month.
The Vatican said on June 13 that he will not preside at a Mass and procession on the feast of Corpus Christi.
The Holy See press office explained that the decision was taken “due to the limitations imposed on the pope by gonalgia,” or knee pain, “and the specific liturgical needs of the celebration.”
Pope Francis offered Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Congolese immigrants on Dec. 1, 2019. The Mass, which featured joyous dancing, marked the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Congolese Catholic Chaplaincy of Rome.
There are an estimated 35 million Catholics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, accounting for roughly half of the country’s population. The last pope to visit Kinshasa was John Paul II in 1985.
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