ROME — Pope Francis on Saturday urged the people and leaders of Congo and South Sudan to “turn a page” and forge new paths of reconciliation, peace and development.
Francis posted a video message the day he planned to begin a week-long pilgrimage to the two African countries. He canceled the planned trip last month due to knee pain that makes walking and standing difficult.
In the message, Francis said he was “very disappointed” with the turn of events and promised to surrender “as soon as possible”.
He urged the people of both countries not to be robbed of hope despite the violence, political instability, exploitation and poverty which he said have bereaved them for so long.
“You have a great mission, all of you, starting with your political leaders: it is to turn a page to open new paths, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of peaceful coexistence and development”, declared Francois.
He said political leaders owe the pursuit of these goals to young people who dream of peace “and deserve to see those dreams come true.”
“For them, above all, it is necessary to lay down their arms, to overcome all resentments and to write new pages of fraternity,” the pope said.
While Francis was unable to travel, he is due to celebrate a special mass at St. Peter’s on Sunday for the Congolese community in Rome. He sent his number 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to visit both Congo and South Sudan on the days Francis was supposed to be there.