Pope Francis who was expected for a visit in DRC and South Sudan in July this year has postponed his upcoming trip due to an ongoing knee problem.
“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardise the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee.
The Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.
The trip, originally planned for July 2 to 7, will be rescheduled though no new date has been set.
Francis, 85, has been suffering from pain in his right knee in recent weeks and last month relied on a wheelchair for the first time at a public event.
He has cancelled numerous engagements scheduled trip to Lebanon in June was postponed and has sometimes been seen struggling to walk.
The Vatican has not said officially what the problem is, although sources have told AFP he has chronic arthritis..
The pontiff was to visit the DRC’s capital Kinshasa, as well as Goma, the main town in the restive eastern province of North Kivu.
He was then to head to South Sudan, visiting the capital Juba.
The Archbishop of Juba, Stephen Ameyu, encouraged people to accept the situation.
“This announcement does not stop us from preparing because the Holy Father is postponing his visit to South Sudan, not cancelling,” he said during a press conference in Juba.
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, has suffered from chronic instability since independence in 2011, including a brutal five-year civil war as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo which contains dozes of armed groups , which Pope John Paul II visited in August 1985.