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Pope Issues Warning Against “Choking” Africa with Resources

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has criticized the “poison of greed” that he claims is to blame for the crises in Africa, saying the wealthy world must understand that people are more valuable than the minerals found in the ground under them.

As Pope drove his popemobile from the airport to the capital Kinshasa, tens of thousands of people rejoiced and some split off to chase after it while others chanted and waved flags.

But when the 86-year-old pope addressed dignitaries at the presidential palace, the joyful atmosphere—one of the most vibrant welcomes of his international trips—turned somber.

In the Congo, where enormous mineral wealth has fueled war, displacement, and starvation, he denounced “awful kinds of exploitation, unworthy of humanity.”

The Democratic Republic of the Congo should not be touched. Leaving Africa alone. Stop suffocating Africa; it is not a mine to be dug up or a place to be pillaged, the pope warned.

Diamond, gold, copper, cobalt, tin, tantalum, and lithium reserves in the Congo are among the wealthiest in the world, but they have also fueled warfare between local militias, occupying forces, and foreign invaders.

Environmental damage and cruel treatment of employees, especially children, have also been connected to mining.

The pope read his address while seated in Italian, saying, “It is a pity that these regions, and more generally the entire African continent, continue to experience various forms of exploitation.”

People who were listening in French translation frequently applauded.

He especially mentioned Congo and warned, “The poison of greed has soiled its gems with blood.”

The country’s issues have been made worse by the bloodshed that has plagued eastern Congo as a result of the protracted and intricate aftermath from the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

Rwanda is charged by Congo with supporting the M23 rebel group that is battling government forces in the east. This is denied by Rwanda.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi declared, right before the pope, on the same stage: “Along with armed militias, foreign forces greedy for the minerals in our soil perpetrate, with the direct and cowardly help of our neighbor Rwanda, horrific atrocities.”

In his talk, the pope avoided mentioning Rwanda or taking a side in the conflict.

Tshisekedi’s remarks were rejected by Yolande Makolo, a spokesperson for the Rwandan government.

She told Reuters: “It’s evident that President Tshisekedi’s political strategy is this stupid fixation with scapegoating Rwanda – a diversion from the bad performance of his government and failing to deliver for their country.

According to the United Nations, armed conflict is a major factor in the fact that 26 million people in Congo are very hungry and an estimated 5.7 million people are internally displaced.

About half of the 90 million people who call the Democratic Republic of the Congo home are Roman Catholics, and the Church is vital to the country’s democratic advancement as well as the operation of its schools and hospitals.

The pope criticized wealthy nations for turning a blind eye to the disasters occurring in the Congo and other parts of Africa.

One gets the idea that the world community has all but accepted the violence that is consuming it (Congo).

The slaughter that has plagued this nation for years and killed millions of people cannot become the norm, he warned.

When Tshisekedi added, “While the world community has remained inactive and mute, more than 10 million people have been terribly slain,” he was making a similar point.

The pope’s trip, which was first planned for last July, had to be delayed due to a flare-up of a persistent knee condition.

Francis’ initial itinerary included a stop in Goma in eastern Congo, but due to a rise in hostilities between M23 rebels and government forces, that stop had to be cancelled.

The pope claimed that the Congolese people were battling to maintain their territorial integrity “against despicable attempts to split the country,” an apparent allusion to the M23 and other militias active in the eastern portions of the country.

On Wednesday, after celebrating mass at a Kinshasa airport, Francis will meet victims of conflict from the east.

The pope will remain in Kinshasa until Friday morning, when he will take a flight to South Sudan, another conflict- and poverty-ridden nation in Africa.

In a first, the Church of Scotland Moderator and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the head of the entire Anglican Communion, will travel with him on that portion of his voyage.

The world’s youngest nation is the destination of the religious leaders’ united journey, which they have dubbed a “pilgrimage of peace.”

After decades of conflict, South Sudan achieved independence from the largely Muslim Sudan in 2011.

Two years later, racial unrest turned into a civil war that claimed 400,000 lives.

The brunt of the violence was ended by a 2018 agreement.

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