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Pope Francis Concludes Visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, Heads Toward South Sudan; Says Africa’s Catholics ‘Breathe the Pure Air of the Gospel’ …

Pope Francis Concludes Visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, Heads Toward South Sudan; Says Africa’s Catholics ‘Breathe the Pure Air of the Gospel’ …

“Yours is a Church present in the lived history of this people, deeply rooted in its daily life, and in the forefront of charity,” he told the bishops. “It is a community capable of attracting others, filled with infectious enthusiasm and therefore, like your forests, with plenty of ‘oxygen.’ Thank you, because you are a lung that helps the universal Church breathe!”

According to the Vatican, there are more than 52 million Catholics in the DRC, almost half of the country’s total population of over 105 million people. The country, which covers 905,600 square miles, is divided into 48 Catholic dioceses.

After praising the beautiful features of the Church in the DRC, Pope Francis said he was sorry to have to speak of another side to the bishops’ country.

“Sadly, I know that the Christian community of this land also has another face,” he said. “It is the face of a Church that suffers for its people, a heart in which the life of the people, with its joys and trials, beats anxiously. A Church that is a visible sign of Christ, who even today is rejected, condemned and reviled in the many crucified people of our world; a Church that weeps with their tears, and like Jesus, a Church that also wants to dry those tears.”

He encouraged the bishops to be close to the Lord in prayer in order to be prophets for their people.

Being a bishop, he said, is not about self-sufficiency or exercising a worldly power.

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