Pope Francis embarked on his fifth visit to Africa on Tuesday, flying to the Democratic Republic of Congo and then South Sudan to plead for peace in the two violence-plagued nations. The 86-year-old pope boarded the papal plane via elevator before it took off from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport at 8:28 local time (7:28 GMT). It is expected to arrive around 3:00 pm local time at Kinshasa’s Ndjili airport, where thousands of well-wishers are expected to greet the pontiff. It is the first time since 1985 that a pope has visited DRC, a desperately poor country of close to 100 million people, 40 percent of whom are Catholic. The six-day trip to DRC and South Sudan was originally planned for July 2022, but postponed due to the pontiff’s knee pain that has forced him in recent months to use a wheelchair. Security concerns were also said to play a role, and the Vatican scrapped an original plan to visit Goma in DR Congo’s east, where dozens of armed groups operate.