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Usa News

In the Congo, a pope and a nation are revitalized

Even the painful afternoon encounter with victims of horrific crimes in the beleaguered east of the country, when survivors laid machetes and knives on the ground near the pope to punctuate the horror of their stories, seemed to remind him of his mission. “Thank you for these testimonies,” he said gravely.

And on Thursday, the mere sight of the white Toyota van that had been transformed into a popemobile sparked an eruption in the stadium, already buzzing with music and dancing in the scorching morning sun.

“The Pope travels the world, but it’s different when he comes here,” said Iyefa Paulus, 47. “We are happy that he came here to face us.”

Laurent Makesa Pasinya, 6, strolled through the bleachers in a cardinal’s red robe (“He has a vocation”, says his mother). Puati Longo, 44, wore a leaf-patterned shirt strewn with drawings of Bibles and the motto “The Bible is my weapon”.

“We have so many difficulties,” he said, “but the coming of the pope makes me so happy.”

When Francis reached the stage and an assistant wheeled his wheelchair to his seat, he saw a few traditional dance performances. The speakers, using French still spoken in the Congo decades after it shook off Belgian colonial rule, concluded with impassioned calls of “Vivre le Pape!”

“I am delighted to meet you face to face” said Francois.

In his speech,

he warned the country’s young people to avoid “the temptation to point the finger at someone, to exclude another person because they are different; beware of regionalism, tribalism, or anything that makes you feel safe in your own group.

nytimes Gt

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