Two members of the EWTN Rome office, Elias Turk and Gianluca Teseo, are on the papal plane with Pope Francis, his entourage and over 70 other members of the media. They will provide video and photos throughout the trip. You can follow the apostolic trip to the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and South Sudan on http://www.ewtn.com via news articles and television coverage. Vatican coverage can be found at vaticannews.va (text and video).


A first bulletin today from the Vatican press office noted that, “this morning, before leaving Casa Santa Marta and heading to the airport, Pope Francis met a dozen migrants and refugees and their families from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan – the two countries he will visit in the coming days – who are staying in Rome’s Centro Astalli. With them was the prefect of the Dicastery for Charity, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

Arriving at Fiumicino Airport, the Holy Father’s car stopped briefly near the Monument to the Fallen of Kindu, the 13 Italian airmen killed in the Congo on November 11, 1961. To the victims of that bloody massacre and to all those who lost their lives participating in humanitarian and peace missions, said the press office statement, Pope Francis dedicated a prayer, and then proceeded to the plane that will take him to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for his 40th apostolic journey. (Vatican media photos)

Boarding the plane –

Once on board the ITA plane, press office director Matteo Bruni introduced Pope Francis to members of the media, noting that there were 75 journalists from 12 countries, including two African nations.

“Good morning and welcome everyone and thank you for accompanying me on this journey,” said Pope Francis. “You’ve been waiting for a year, huh? It’s a beautiful journey, I too would have liked to go to Goma but with the war you can’t go there. It will only it will be Kinshasa and Juba. There we will do everything. Thank you for being here with me and being all together. Thank you for your work which is so good, it helps a lot because it gives people who are interested in that trip the images also your thoughts and reflections on the trip. Thank you so much. I’d like to go around, but I can’t today. I must stay here. I’m a little ashamed to have all of you come here we can greet you from afar. Thank you”

(Elias Turk – EWTN)

After greeting the journalists, Francis noted, “Right now we are crossing over the Sahara, let’s have a little thought of silence, a prayer, for all the people who, looking for a little well-being, a little freedom, have crossed it and have not made it. Many who suffer arrive in the Mediterranean, after crossing the desert, are caught in the lagers and suffer there. Let’s pray for all those people (a moment of silence). Thank you.”

The papal plane landed just after 2:30 pm in Kinshasa, DRC, where the temperature is 88 degrees and the humidity 78 percent. Kinshasa is the same time zone as Italy. The trip was 5,420 kilometers (3,370 miles).

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(Elias Turk – EWTN)