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Pope Francis’ stops in the DRC and South Sudan


Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Isabella H. de Carvalho - Hugues Lefèvre - published on 01/27/23

A visual look at Pope Francis schedule during his upcoming trip to the DRC and South Sudan

From January 31 to February 5, Pope Francis will make his 40th trip abroad since his election. He will first visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), landing in the capital, Kinshasa, on January 31. He will then travel to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on February 3 and stay there unt

For this 6-day trip, the Pope will fly a total of 12,630 kilometers (7,848 miles) and will spend nearly 17 and a half hours on a plane. Kinshasa is in the same time zone as Rome (GMT+1), while Juba is an hour ahead (GMT +2) of the Italian capital. 

During his African journey, the Pope will deliver 10 speeches, 2 homilies, and an Angelus address. In both of the countries he is visiting he will meet privately with the Jesuits of the region. 

Pope's DRC S Sudan trip map

Tuesday, January 31

Pope Francis will depart from Rome Fiumicino Airport at 07:55 am (GMT+1) for a trip lasting a little over 7 hours, on a plane chartered by the Italian company ITA Airways. He will land at 3pm at Kinshasa’s “Ndjili” International Airport where a short welcoming ceremony is planned (1).

At 4:30pm. a welcoming ceremony will begin at the “Palais de la Nation,” the official residence of the President of the DRC. He will then meet with President Felix Tshisekedi, who has been in office since January 2019, at 4:45pm.

Pope Francis will give his first speech at 5:30pm, addressing the country’s authorities, the diplomatic corps and the civil society, gathered in the gardens of the “Palais de la Nation.” (2)  

The current program does not give any details about the Pope’s evening. The Pope is expected to stay at the Apostolic Nunciature of the country, as is traditionally the case when traveling abroad. The Nunciature is located in northern Kinshasa, just a short distance away from the Congo River, which marks the border with Congo Brazzaville.  

Pope trip to DRC map

Wednesday, February 1

At 9:30am, the Pope will celebrate the first public Mass of his trip and deliver a homily (3). It will take place on the tarmac of the “Ndolo” Airport, in the east of the city, and is expected to gather more than 120,000 faithful, according to the spokesperson for the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) contacted by I.MEDIA. 

At 4:30pm, the Pope will meet with victims of the conflicts in the eastern area of the DRC at the Apostolic Nunciature. He will give a speech (4). In the initial schedule of this trip to Africa, planned for July 2022, the pontiff was to fly to the city of Goma, in the far east of the country, to celebrate Mass in a camp for displaced persons and meet with victims of the conflict. For security reasons, this leg of the journey was removed from the program and replaced by this meeting.

In the early evening, at 6:30pm, the Pope will meet with representatives of charity organizations in the DRC at the Nunciature. There the pontiff will give the last speech of the day (5).

Thursday, February 2

At 9:30 am, Francis will meet with young people and catechists in the Martyrs’ Stadium. The Pope will give a speech to an expected crowd of around 80,000 young people. (6)

At 4:30pm, he will meet with the country’s priests, deacons, religious and seminarians for a prayer meeting at the “Notre Dame de Congo” Cathedral, in central Kinshasa (7).

In the early evening, at 6:30pm, he will have a private meeting with the members of the Society of Jesus in the Apostolic Nunciature (8). Pope Francis, a former provincial for the Jesuits in Argentina, has established the tradition of meeting with members of the Society of Jesus whenever he visits a new country. Usually, the exchanges between the pope and the local members appear a few weeks later in the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.

Friday, February 3

At 8:30am, the Pope will meet with the 55 bishops of the DRC at the headquarters of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) where he will deliver his last speech in the country. (9)

At 10:10am, he will be expected at Kinshasa’s “Ndjili” International Airport for a short farewell ceremony.

At this airport he will meet the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland so they can travel together to South Sudan. Their plane, chartered by the Italian company ITA Airways, will take off at 10:40am.

South Sudan

Pope trip to S Sudan map

After a 3-hour flight, the papal plane will land at 3pm (GMT+2) at Juba International Airport (1). After a short welcome ceremony, the Pope will be expected at 3:45pm at the Presidential Palace for a meeting with President Salva Kiir, in office since the creation of the country in 2011. This will be followed at 4:15 p.m. by a meeting with the country’s vice president Riek Machar (2). In 2019, at the Vatican, Pope Francis had knelt before these two South Sudanese leaders to beg them to work for peace.

At 5pm, the pope will deliver his first speech in South Sudan, addressing the authorities, the country’s civil society and the diplomatic corps gathered in the garden of the Presidential Palace.

Saturday, February 4

At 9am, the Pope will meet with the country’s bishops, priests, deacons, religious and seminarians in the Cathedral of Saint Therese (3), located in the southeast of the capital, not far from the White Nile, the river that borders the city.

At 11am, the Pope will meet with the country’s Jesuits at the Apostolic Nunciature (4). The Holy See has not yet confirmed whether this is the new Nunciature, which was inaugurated last July by Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

At 4:30pm, the Pope will deliver a speech to a group of internally displaced people at Freedom Hall (5), a complex located in the center of the capital. In the initial program of the trip planned for July 2022, the Pope was to visit these internally displaced people at the “IDPs Camp” in Juba. This event has been changed.

Finally, at 6pm, the Pope will participate in an ecumenical prayer at the “John Garang” Mausoleum and will deliver the last speech of his trip (6). The mausoleum is the final resting place of the man who inspired the independence of South Sudan, which was officially recognized as a state by the United Nations in 2011.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and the Reverend Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, will be at the pontiff’s side in this event

Sunday, February 5

At 8:45am, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the “John Garang” Mausoleum in Juba (7). He will deliver a homily and then, at the end of the Mass, recite the Angelus prayer.

At 11am, he will participate in a short farewell ceremony at Juba International Airport and will leave South Sudan at 11:30am.

After a seven-hour flight, the ITA Airways plane will land at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. During the trip, the Pope is expected to give a press conference, as usual, to the journalists accredited for the trip – including one from the I.MEDIA agency.

AfricaEcumenismPope Francis
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