Pope Francis urged the people and leaders of Congo and South Sudan on Saturday to “turn a page” and forge new paths of reconciliation, peace and development.
Francis issued a video message on the day he was supposed to have begun a week-long pilgrimage to the two African countries. Francis had to cancel the trip because of knee pain that has made walking and standing difficult.
In the message, the pope said he was “greatly disappointed” by the turn of events and promised to visit “as soon as possible.”
He urged the people of both countries to not allow themselves to be robbed of hope, despite the violence, political instability, exploitation and poverty that he said had pained them for so long.
“You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders,” Francis said.
“It is that of turning a page in order to blaze new trails, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of serene coexistence and of development,” he added.
While Francis was unable to travel, he is due to celebrate a special Mass at St. Peter’s on Sunday for Rome’s Congolese community.
His No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has been sent to visit both Congo and South Sudan this week in the days he was supposed to have been there.