Pope Francis condemns ‘brutal atrocities’, ‘poison of greed’ fueling conflict in DRC
Pope Francis on Wednesday (1 February) slammed “brutal atrocities, which bring shame upon all humanity” and denounced the “poison of greed” for mineral resources driving conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as he began a visit there a day earlier.
The 86-year-old Francis is the first pontiff to visit Congo since John Paul II in 1985, when it was still known as Zaire. About half of Congo’s 90 million population are Roman Catholics. In what was one of the most vibrant welcomes of his foreign trips, tens of thousands of people cheered as the pope travelled from the airport into the capital Kinshasa in his popemobile. But the mood changed when he gave a speech to dignitaries at the presidential palace, slamming “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity” in Congo, where vast mineral wealth has fueled war, displacement and hunger.
The pontiff also appealed to those who “plunder, scourge and destabilize” the turbulent region to lay down their weapons, on the second day of his visit to the country, Africa’s largest Catholic state. “It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation,” he said. “The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,” he said, referring to Congo specifically. “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” he said, referring to the rich world that could no longer ignore the tragic plight of many African nations