On his third-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis met with young people and catechists at the Martyrs’ Stadium in Kinshasa.
Enthusiastic young people from all the Catholic movements of the country welcomed the Pontiff.
This was a crucial meeting for the pope in a country of nearly 95 million people where more than 65 percent of the Congolese are under 25 years old.
It is also one of the top countries in the world with the youngest population.
A youth confronted with a lack of employment, education, immorality, alcohol addiction, drugs, malnutrition and neglect.
“The pope is a model. It’s an opportunity for us to see a change,” said one congregant.
Another congregant said, “It’s not just the pope. It’s us young people first. We need to be at the center of our lives and at the center of our organizations. We need to take charge of ourselves.”
Francis delivered a speech with an encouraging tone. The Pope urged his audience to consider prayer as the most powerful weapon available.
My friends, do not let your youth be spoiled by solitude and closure. Always think of yourselves together and you will be happy because the community is the way to live in harmony with yourself and to be faithful to your vocation. On the contrary, individualistic choices seem attractive at first, but then they leave only a great inner emptiness. Think of drugs; you hide from others, from real life, to feel all-powerful; and in the end, you find yourself deprived of everything,” said Pope Francis.
The pope highlighted Floribert Bwana Chui, a 25-year-old customs officer who was abducted, tortured and killed in July 2007 in Goma, in the east of the DRC. He had refused, because of his Catholic faith, to participate in the vast network of corruption that was evident in the region.
“Don’t let your life be carried away by the polluted current, be strong without ever giving in to the seductive but poisonous flattery of corruption,” concluded the Holy Father.
The papal visit to the DRC ends this Friday. He is expected in South Sudan on the same day.