Pope rallies Congo’s youth, and gets a thunderous response

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Religion

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Pope Francis urged Congo’s young people to work for a peaceful and honest future on Thursday, getting a raucous response from a generation that has been particularly hard-hit by the country’s chronic poverty, corruption and conflict.Deafening cheers and chants greeted Francis on his last full day in Congo as he joined tens of thousands of young people at the Martyrs’ Stadium in the capital, Kinshasa. The Vatican said more than 65,000 people attended.
The crowd that pulsed in the stands repeatedly interrupted the pope, cheering especially loudly when Francis denounced the “cancer of corruption.” The audience broke into a chant in the Lingala language directed at the country’s president, thundering that his mandate was over.
Politics aside, the pope clearly seemed to enjoy the enthusiasm, egging the young people on and urging them at one point to hold hands in a sign of community.
“You see how it is to be in community, and be in one church?” he asked. “Your own well-being depends on the other.”
More than two-thirds of Congo’s population of around 100 million is under age 25. The United Nations and humanitarian organizations have said the country’s youth were particularly vulnerable to abuses as violence flares in the eas t.
Just this week, UNICEF demanded the release of a dozen children reportedly abducted during an attack in restive North Kivu province, and Save the Children raised alarm about the plight of children amid massive flows of displaced people fleeing the violence.
Closer to home, Francis urged the young in Kinshasa not to be te …

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