Pope Francis I has rescheduled his long-delayed trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for 31 January to 5 February 2023 – cutting out a stop over in the troubled eastern DRC, but fulfilling a long-held wish to accompany other Christian leaders to South Sudan.
On Thursday, the Vatican published the itinerary of the trip, which had originally been scheduled for last July but was postponed because Pope Francis was undergoing therapy for strained knee ligaments.
The 85-year-old pontiff is still using a wheelchair but has made other foreign trips in the meantime, suggesting that he is fit for challenging itineraries.
The new schedule roughly matches the original, with one significant exception: initially the pope had planned to celebrate mass in the eastern Congolese city of Goma en route to South Sudan.
Now, Francis will meet a delegation of faithful and “victims” from Goma in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.
Latest ceasefire broken in eastern DRC
Tens of thousands of Congolese have been displaced – with many heading toward Goma – amid renewed clashes between government soldiers and M23 rebels.
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