Parishioner from Democratic Republic of Congo highlights message of pope’s visit


Therèse Nti wants the world to pay serious attention to what Pope Francis said and did during his Jan. 31-Feb. 3 visit to South Sudan and her homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

She hopes that in doing so, people will take the pope’s prophetic message about Africa to heart.

“It was an important visit,” Ms. Nti, a DRC native and member of Mary Immaculate Parish in Kirksville, stated in French through an interpreter.

“The Pope delivered messages with strong points that directly and explicitly challenged both the bad rulers, and the internal and external predators that the populations are such concerns for the people itself across all categories and all persuasions,” she stated.

Catholic bishops of the region said the Holy Father’s visit not only comforted but shook up the continent, reviving hope that the nations may overcome the significant challenges they face.

The pope spent four days in DRC, from Jan. 31-Feb. 3, before heading to South Sudan, from which he departed Feb.5.

In Congo, the pope spoke out against “economic colonialism” and called out developed nations against the wanton exploitation of the nation’s vast mineral resources.

“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo!” Pope Francis said to big applause. “Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa, it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.”

Ms. Nti said the pope’s words need to be heard, remembered and acted upon by the entire Church and the people of the world.

She quoted the pope directly:

  • “Take your hands off the DRC, take your hands off Africa”;
  • “Stop exploiting Africa”;
  • “You continue to impose economic colonialism there”;
  • “You should be ashamed ...”;
  • To young people: “Be against corruption!”
  • To the leaders of the Catholic Church: “You are not businessmen.” “Continue to be on the side of the people, of the poor.”

Ms. Nti is from the parish of St. Ferdinand in Dizi, in the Diocese of Boma, DRC.

The parish is celebrating its 75th anniversary, which will culminate in mid-July this summer.

Her brother is a priest serving in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

The situation in their homeland makes Ms. Nti angry, and she wants the people of the United States to know about it.

She spoke of the subhuman living conditions the vast majority of DRC residents are living under, and the continual control of Westerners over the DRC’s systems of government and its natural resources.

She also spoke of “the hypocrisy and pretense of the great powers and international, global, regional organizations in the face of the various social, political, economic crises of our country.”

“The pope was blunt and so am I,” she stated.

Ms. Nti is hopeful that the pope’s visit will lead to “a boost in the process of changing mentalities, both internally and externally,” as well as “a stronger and more concrete accompaniment from the Church, local and universal, and a commitment to social and political action by leaders in the government, among Christians and secular humanists to conform their identity as real persons both truly human and truly Christian.

“Our compatriots must have the same consideration, the same dignity, the same rights, the same chances that everyone has, including access to basic answers and goods to their basic needs as a truly human beings,” she said.

Like Pope Francis, she hopes people will pray for the people of her homeland and listen intentionally to God’s answer.

“(Pray to) inform and educate your governments, your deputies, your stakeholders, the socio-humanitarian organizations, your economic functionaries of the true reality of the situation of our country and our people,” she suggested.

“Pray for everyone to stop being accomplices and predators,” she continued.

“Pray that the international organizations, of which the United States is the great big voice, talk, work, and be there for a truly humane life in our countries,” she said.

OSV News contributed information to this report.