|Source: Catholic News Service|
In the aftermath of the Vatican canceling Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to sub-Saharan African and in particular the Congo, on July 3, some 2,000 individuals from the Congo joined the pope for Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Let us pray for peace and reconciliation in your homeland, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so wounded and exploited,” the pope said in his homily. “We pray that Christians may be witnesses of peace, capable of overcoming every feeling of rancor, every feeling of revenge, overcoming the temptation of thinking reconciliation is not possible (and) every unhealthy attachment to one’s own group that leads to contempt for others.”
The Mass was celebrated using the Zairean rite of the Roman Missal, a rite that incorporates elements of the culture of the Congo at the basilica’s Altar of the Chair. The service features Congolese music, and readings in Swahili and French with intentions in Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba and Italian.
Attending the mass in his wheelchair, Pope Francis presided over the Liturgy of the Word while Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, presided over the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The Gospel reading focused on Jesus sending out his 72 disciples and admonishing them, “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’”
Pope Francis equated this metaphorically with the Lord telling his disciples they must present themselves as “ambassadors of peace,” the pope said. “A Christian always brings peace.”
“The Christian is a bearer of peace, because Christ is peace,” the pope said. “By this we can recognize whether we are his.”
“If, on the other hand, we spread gossip and suspicion, create divisions, hinder communion, put our identity before everything, we are not acting in the name of Jesus,” the pope said. “Whoever foments resentment, incites hatred or climbs over others, does not work for Jesus, does not bring peace.”
The theme of peace is in keeping with what was to be the theme of his apostolic visit to Africa, “All Reconciled in Jesus Christ.” In countries like Congo this has particular resonance because despite the country being 95% Christian the violence in the country has posed a severe threat to the country’s democracy.
In lieu of the pope’s visit, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, celebrated mass on behalf of the pope in Kinshasa, Congo with more than 100,000 people in attendance.
During his homily in Kinshasa, Cardinal Parolin said that, especially in eastern Congo, “peace is continually threatened by armed groups and by exploitation and predatory interests, of which the country has long been a victim.”
“The lust for natural resources, the thirst for money and power close the doors to peace and represent an attack on people’s right to life and serenity,” he said. “But Jesus continues to send us, his disciples, so that we can repeat the same words: ‘Peace to this house!’ Peace to the Congolese land: may it once again become a house of fraternity!”
Source: Catholic News Service