Pope cancels procession but plans mass for Congolese on 3 July

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ROME – Pope Francis canceled his participation in a religious procession this weekend due to knee pain, but said on Monday he hoped to celebrate a special Mass for Italy’s Congolese community after he had to postpone his planned visit to Africa. .

“We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter,” Francis told a group of missionary priests, the White Fathers, during an audience on Monday.

He said he was saddened to have to cancel his planned July 2-7 pilgrimage to Congo and South Sudan, but said he hoped to compensate Rome’s sizable Congolese community with a Mass at the Vatican on July 3.

“At my age it’s not so easy to go on mission,” he told the priests, who have long ministered in Africa.

Francis has canceled his participation in several events this year due to strained ligaments in his right knee that made walking and standing difficult. He has been in a wheelchair for more than a month and the Vatican announced last week that he had to cancel his planned trip to Congo and South Sudan so as not to jeopardize his recovery.

On Monday, the Vatican announced that Francis would also have to withdraw from Sunday’s Corpus Domini procession, an annual secular profession of the Catholic faith during which the Eucharist is publicly displayed.

Francis apologized to governments and worshipers in Congo and South Sudan and on Sunday asked for prayers “so that, with God’s help and medical treatment, I can reach you as soon as possible.”

The Vatican did not specify the exact nature of the problem or what treatments Francis is receiving, but he said he has had some injections and friends say he is doing physical therapy daily.

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