Last updated: 6 hours ago
Unable to travel to Congo, Pope Francis greeted the Congolese community in Rome on Sunday, borrowing words from their native languages to wish peace and joy in an especially vibrant ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica. Francis, 85, was supposed to make a pilgrimage to Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in early July. But persistent knee pain that has seen him using a wheelchair or a cane in recent weeks made the trip impossible, at least for now. Instead some 2,000 Congolese or descendants of Congolese joined the Pope in Mass at the Vatican on Sunday. They clapped when Francis began his homily by speaking a few words from some of their languages, to wish them peace, brotherhood and joy. Their colourful, native dress and vibrant, rhythmic singing made for a sharp contrast from the often sombre attire and chants of clergy, nuns and rank-and-file faithful at many basilica ceremonies. Prayers by the faithful were recited in Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba and Kikongo, languages of the Congolese people.