By Spy Uganda
Pope Francis delivered an unequivocal message to companies and nations during his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa Tuesday: stop exploiting Africa’s people and resources.
Francis became the first pope to visit Congo since 1985 and has consistently used his platform as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church to highlight the plight of the world’s poor.
“Torn by war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to witness within its confines conflicts and forced migrations, and to suffer from terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity and of creation,” the Pope said during his speech.
“This country, so immense and full of life, this diaphragm of Africa, struck by violence like a blow to the stomach, has seemed for some time to be gasping for breath,” he continued.
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” the Pope declared.
Congo is inflicted by poverty and war. A United Nations report published in December revealed that Congo M23 rebels have killed at least 131 people. The report also documented kidnappings and nearly two dozen rapes committed by the group against women and girls.
In addition to conflict between groups within the country, which altered Francis’s travel arrangements and caused his team to scrap part of his trip, concerns have been raised that the nation’s resources and people are being exploited by Western companies for profit.
Some companies, such as Elon Musk’s Tesla, have promised to transition from purchasing cobalt batteries to making batteries internally.
The African continent is one of the few places in the world where the Catholic faith is growing. As part of his trip, Francis hopes to help continue to establish the Church in the Global South.