Rome — Pope Francis on Saturday urged the people and leaders of Congo and South Sudan to “turn a page” and forge new avenues of reconciliation, peace and development.
Francis released a video message on the day he planned to start a weeklong pilgrimage to the two African countries. He canceled his scheduled trip last month due to knee pain, which makes walking and standing difficult.
In the message, Francis said he was “very disappointed” by the turn of events and promised to come “as soon as possible”.
He urged the people of both countries not to deprive themselves of hope in spite of the violence, political instability, exploitation and poverty which he said had plagued them for so long.
Francis said, “You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders: it is to turn a page on new paths, new avenues of reconciliation and forgiveness, quiet coexistence and development.” ”
He said political leaders pursue such goals for youth who dream of peace “and deserve to see those dreams come true”.
“For their sake, above all, it is necessary to lay down arms, put away all resentment and write new pages of brotherhood,” the Pope said.
While Francis was unable to travel, he is due to celebrate a special Mass in St. Peter’s on Sunday for Rome’s Congolese community. He sent his number 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to visit both the Congo and South Sudan on the day Francis should have stayed there.