“Don’t touch the Democratic Republic of the Congo, don’t touch Africa” is the urgent appeal made by Francis in his first speech in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Pope asked to stop suffocating the continent, and appealed for Africa, “smile and hope of the world” to have more weight and representation among nations.
Africa is not a mine to exploit nor a land to plunder […] These were the words of the Pope addressing the authorities, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Kinshasa, at the start of his 40th International Apostolic Journey, which will also see him in South Sudan starting on Friday February 3rd.
At the beginning of his extensive speech, Francisco delves into the description of this country that is like a “continent within the great African continent”, where “it seems as if the whole earth breathes”. A country “full of life” and, nevertheless, “hit by violence like a punch in the stomach”, tormented by war, which suffers within its borders conflicts and forced migrations, and “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of the man and creation. A country where “a forgotten genocide” has been perpetrated, says Francisco, taking up the words of the president of the country in his greeting. Here the Pope wanted to meet the Congolese, who “fight to safeguard their dignity and territorial integrity in the face of the deplorable attempts to fragment the country”, in the name of Jesus, “as a pilgrim of reconciliation and peace”:
I have longed to be here and I have finally come to bring you the closeness, affection and consolation of the whole Church, and learn from your example of patience, courage and struggle.
Each Congolese feels called to carry out his own task
Francisco uses the image of the diamond, which symbolizes the luminous beauty of the Congo, a true “diamond of creation”, to remind its inhabitants that they are infinitely more valuable than any good that can sprout from the fertile soil. I am here – he tells them – to embrace you and remind you that you are of inestimable value, that the Church and the Pope trust you; who believe in your future, in a future that is in your hands and in which they deserve to invest the gifts of intelligence, sagacity and industriousness that they possess.
Diamonds, generally rare, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo “are abundant”, observes Francisco, who points out that “if this is true of the material riches hidden underground, it is even more true of the spiritual riches contained in the hearts”.
And it is precisely from hearts that peace and development continue to be possible because, with God’s help, human beings are capable of justice and forgiveness, harmony and reconciliation, commitment and perseverance in the use of talents. that they have received. For this reason, from the beginning of my trip, I would like to make an appeal: that each Congolese feels called to carry out his own task.
The poison of greed has bloodied her diamonds
The Pontiff then refers to the paralyzed development and the various forms of exploitation not only in the country, but in general on the African continent. He notes that “after political colonialism, an equally enslaving economic colonialism has been unleashed”, and thus, this country, “abundantly depredated, is not capable of sufficiently benefiting from its immense resources”:
It has reached the paradox that the fruits of its own land make it a “foreigner” for its inhabitants. The poison of greed has bloodied his diamonds. It is a drama to which the most economically advanced world tends to close its eyes, ears and mouth. However, this country and this continent deserve to be respected and listened to, they deserve space and attention.
Africa is not a mine to exploit nor a land to plunder
“Do not touch the Democratic Republic of the Congo, do not touch Africa” is the urgent appeal made by Francis. “Stop suffocating it, because Africa is not a mine to be exploited or a land to be plundered.” The Pope asks the world to remember “the disasters committed over the centuries to the detriment of local populations” and appeals for Africa, “the smile and hope of the world, to acquire more importance; that it be talked about more, that it have more weight and representation among the nations”.
Let the way be opened for a diplomacy of man for man, of the peoples for the peoples, whose center is not the control of areas and resources, nor the objectives of expansion and the increase in profits, but rather the opportunities growth of people.
Because one has the impression that the international community has almost resigned itself to the violence that is devouring the country, the pontiff not only encourages the peace processes with all his might, but also asks that what is happening there be known:
We cannot get used to the blood that has flowed in this country for decades, causing millions of deaths without many knowing it..
Work together to achieve harmony
Like a diamond, with its “numerous faces arranged harmoniously”, thus, “also this country, adorned by its typical pluralism, – Francisco observed – has a multifaceted character” and it is in the differences where we must work to achieve harmony:
It is a wealth that must be taken care of, avoiding falling into tribalism and opposition. Obstinately taking sides with one’s own ethnic group or with particular interests, fueling spirals of hatred and violence, is detrimental to everyone, since it blocks the necessary “chemistry of the whole”.
The Pontiff then recalled how important it is to know how to welcome each other as brothers, and for this he quoted a Congolese proverb:
“Bintu bantu”: thus, very effectively, one of your proverbs reminds us that true wealth is people and good relations with them. In a special way, religions, with their patrimony of wisdom, are called to contribute to this, in their daily effort to renounce all aggression, proselytism and coercion, which are unworthy means of human freedom.
That politics be a transparent service
The diamond is functional to describe the characteristics of good politics: transparent and capable of “beautifully refracting the light it receives”. The politician for the Pope is then called to serve his people, without ever falling into corruption and partisan interest:
Therefore, those who hold civic and government responsibilities are called to act with transparency, exercising the position received as a means to serve society. In fact, power only makes sense when it is turned into service. How important it is to act in this spirit, fleeing from authoritarianism, the desire for easy profits and the greed for money, which the Apostle Paul calls “the root of all evil” (1 Tm 6,10). And, at the same time, favor the holding of free, transparent and credible elections; further expand participation in peace processes to women, youth and marginalized groups; seek the common good and the safety of the people above personal or group interests; reinforce the presence of the State throughout the territory; take care of the many displaced people and refugees.
Recalling how “in society, it is often the darkness of injustice and corruption that obscures the light of what is good”, Pope Francis asked those present to constantly promote what is just and equitable, with particular attention also to the role Of the media:
It is important not to get tired of promoting the law and equity in all areas, opposing impunity and the manipulation of laws and information.
Education and care of creation
Just as you have to work the diamonds that are extracted in the rough from the earth, you also have to educate men. It is once again the image of the diamond that the Bishop of Rome uses to underline the enormous importance of education:
Education is fundamental, it is the way to the future, the path that must be taken to achieve full freedom for this country and for the African continent. It is urgent to invest in it to prepare societies that will only consolidate if they are well educated, that will be autonomous only if they are fully aware of their potential and capable of developing it with responsibility and perseverance. However, many children do not go to school; How many, instead of receiving a decent education, are exploited! Too many children die, subjected to slave labor in the mines. That no effort be spared in denouncing the scourge of child labor and putting an end to it.
The diamond also calls for “care for creation”. Francis recalls the urgency of fighting climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, but his appeal goes further:
Many have called for Africa’s commitment and offered help to combat climate change and the coronavirus. Undoubtedly, these are opportunities that must be seized, but what is needed above all are health and social models that respond not only to the emergencies of the moment, but also contribute to effective social growth: there is a need for solid structures and honest and competent, to overcome the serious problems, such as famine and malaria, which nip development in the bud.
A brave and inclusive social reset
Finally, the Pope dwells on one last aspect of the diamond: its greater hardness and its high resistance to chemical agents. A quality to which the Congolese are also called to face the usual difficulties and start anew with courage:
In the name of Christ, who is the God of hope, the God of all possibilities who always gives us the strength to start over, in the name of the dignity and value of the most precious diamonds on this splendid earth, which are your citizens, I would like to invite all of you to a courageous and inclusive social reset.
It is the history of the country that demands it, it is its youngest sons and daughters, and Francisco affirms that he is at their side, with prayer, in this noble effort for a harmonious future:
The luminous history, although wounded, of the country demands it; It is requested above all by young people and children. I am with you and I accompany with my prayers and closeness all the efforts for a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous future for this great country. May God bless the entire Congolese nation.
The Pope: Africa is not a mine to be exploited or a land to be plundered – Vatican News