Ahead of the visit of the Head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, to South Sudan and Congo, wheelchair users in both countries have expressed their excitement at the visit of the Vatican head.
Religion Nigeria reported that Pope Francis, would visit the two selected African countries on the 31st of January, 2023.
Many wheelchair users in the countries have expressed their delight because the Pope also uses a wheelchair to move around.
A market vendor in Goma, South Congo, who is also a wheelchair user said, “We know that it’s a suffering, but it also comforts us to see a grand personality like the pope using a wheelchair”.
Pope Francis was first seen publicly in a wheelchair in May, with an aide pushing it. The pope, at age 86, never propels himself. Sometimes he walks with a cane, but he uses the chair for longer distances and has a wheelchair lift to get on and off planes.
He also also on numerous times advocated for disabled people whom he said are often marginalized because of their condition.
“No disability, temporary, acquired or permanent can change the fact that we are all children of the one Father and enjoy the same dignity,” Francis wrote in his annual message for the U.N. International Day of Persons with Disabilities in December.
The presence of a wheelchair-using pope might serve as a potent teaching tool in a society where people with disabilities are sometimes treated with suspicion and superstition, according to Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Congo.