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Press Release

Pope Francis’ cry:


Addresses and testimonials of the Apostolic Journey in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan

Preface by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Pope Francis’ book “Giù le mani dall’Africa!” (“Hands off Africa”) (Vatican Publishing House, 152 pages, 15 euros), with a preface by the world-famous Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, will be in bookshops from Monday 22 May. The volume gathers all the addresses and homilies delivered by Pope Francis during his apostolic journey in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan (31 January to 5 February 2023), along with various testimonies, including those of victims of unprecedented violence and armed conflicts. It is a valuable book because it unites the prophetic words of Francis to the voices of Congolese and South Sudanese women and men who reveal, with great courage and humility, their journey of suffering and faith, offering a rare testimony of the capacity of human forgiveness.

In the preface, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defines the Pope’s encounter with the people of the Congo and South Sudan as “a tribute to the primary importance of ordinary human beings. Here is a religious leader attentive to the minutiae of people's suffering, to the weight and value of emotions, of feelings. Here is a religious leader who sets an example, urging others not to lose their sense of wonder at the human encounter”. “Hands off Africa!” - confides the Nigerian writer – “brings me a small sliver of hope for Congo, and for the beloved and broken-hearted continent that I call home”.

By retracing the different stages of Francis' pilgrimage on African soil, this book highlights his closeness to two peoples wounded by war, impoverished by predatory foreign powers, weakened by the corruption of the local political classes. Moreover, the Pope visited a Church that, even in extreme situations, bears witness to the indefatigable presence of Christians alongside the poor, the victims of conflict, raped women, young people forced to take up arms, children without education or a future.

Resounding in the heart of these pages is Pope Francis' cry for the continent on his arrival in Kinshasa, before the Congolese authorities: “Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered. May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny! (...) May Africa, the smile and hope of the world, counts for more. May it be spoken of more frequently, and have greater weight and prestige among the nations!”. Equally important, the Holy Father's vibrant appeal for reconstruction and reconciliation launched from Juba, in South Sudan: “Now is the time to say ‘no more of this’, without ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and mutual recriminations about who is responsible for it, no more leaving your people athirst for peace. No more destruction: it is time to build! Leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn!”.

Francis conveyed a challenging invitation for each person to perform, in their own life situation, “an amnesty of the heart”. He spread a message of hope and at the same time heard words charged with unspeakable pain but also with unprecedented hope: the proclamation that love conquers death, that forgiveness redeems violence, that good defeats evil. Among the various unforgettable testimonies, attesting to the unarmed power of the Gospel, is that of Emelda M'karhungulu of Bugobe. Held as a sex slave and abused for three months at the age of 16, she declared before the Pope: “We place under the cross of Christ these men in arms who still frighten us, for having inflicted countless atrocious and unspeakable acts of violence on us, which continue to this day. We want a different future. We want to leave this dark past behind us and be able to build a beautiful future. We demand justice and peace. We forgive our executioners for all they have done and we ask the Lord for the grace of peaceful, humane and fraternal coexistence”.

The book will be presented this Monday 22 May at 20.45 in Turin by Fr. AAlex Zanotelli, Combonian missionary, along with Matteo Spicuglia, Rai journalist, in the Libreria Gulliver, Via Boston 30/B, in the Salone Off.

Press Contact: helene.destombes@spc.va Tel. 06 69 698 45 366
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