Pope Francis met with young people and catechists at the Martyrs’ Stadium in Kinshasa on the third day of his trip to the DRC.
Young people from every Catholic movement in the nation greeted the Pontiff with enthusiasm.
In a nation of roughly 95 million people, where more than 65 percent of Congolese are under 25, this was a significant meeting for the pope.
It ranks among the top nations in the world for having the youngest population.
A young person struggling with unemployment, school gaps, moral decay, drug and alcohol abuse, starvation, 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.
Floribert Bwana Chui, a 25-year-old customs officer who was kidnapped, tortured, and assassinated in Goma, in the east of the DRC, in July 2007, was singled out by the pope. Due to his Catholic beliefs, he had chosen to abstain from joining the region’s extensive corruption network.
“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.