Pope Francis’ first large service on his most recent journey to Africa was attended by an estimated one million Congolese, who flocked to Kinshasa’s N’Dolo Airport.
Wednesday marked the second day of Pope Francis’s journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a sizable crowd of singing and dancing worshipers attended a papal mass there.
People came to the N’Dolo Airport’s tarmac in anticipation of the open-air mass, which was scheduled to start at 9:30am (08:30 GMT).
On Tuesday night, many of the devout in the 15 million-person megacity started to show up at the airport to guarantee themselves a spot.
700 choir singers practiced in a joyous setting as believers danced and waved flags as thousands flooded into the airport under a brilliant sun and tight security.
On the first stage of a six-day tour to Africa, which will also visit South Sudan, the 86-year-old pontiff arrived in the DRC on Tuesday.
The popemobile was being driven by Francis as large crowds gathered in the streets to see it.
The DRC is the most Catholic nation in Africa and a former colony of Belgium that is the size of continental Western Europe. According to official statistics from the Vatican, 49 percent of people in the DRC are Catholic.
Francis criticized the “economic colonialism” he claimed had caused long-lasting harm in the DRC during an address to lawmakers and guests on Tuesday at Kinshasa’s presidential palace.
“This country, massively plundered, has not benefitted adequately from its immense resources,” he said.
Numerous armed factions have long caused unrest in the DRC’s unstable east. M23 rebels have also made significant territorial gains in the eastern North Kivu province since the end of 2021, gaining access to Goma, the region’s capital.
The pontiff’s knee condition, which has recently required him to use a wheelchair, forced him to postpone the journey to the DRC and South Sudan, which was initially scheduled for July 2022.
The pope will visit Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on Friday.
Francis is currently on his 40th papal visit since his election in 2013.