Democratic Republic of Congo bishops: Amid growth of Church ‘the Congolese state is dead’ — By: Catholic News Agency

Members of the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu (ASSEPB). / Credit: Radio Moto

ACI Africa, Apr 28, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Catholic bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have denounced the insecurity and violence in their dioceses.

In their collective statement issued Sunday, April 14, the members of the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu (ASSEPB) said: “Insecurity has become endemic, with its trail of killings even in the middle of the day, massacres and kidnappings of peaceful citizens in our towns and villages.”

ASSEPB members decried “the opening up of most of our territorial entities; the [rebel group] M23s surrounding of the town of Goma supported by Rwanda; and the strategy of paralyzing the economy by isolating and suffocating large and small towns.”

“Despite the holding of elections, the Congolese state remains weak and ineffective,” they further lamented. 

The Catholic Church leaders faulted the President Felix Tshisekedi-led government for leaving citizens to their own devices, saying: “The Congolese state is dead, and we, the governed, are abandoned to our sad fate; and we see no indication that today’s rulers are thinking about the well-being of the governed in the near future.”

“One wonders whether this behavior is not contributing to the plan for the [fragmentation] and dismemberment of the DRC, even though the people are already opposed to it,” they added.

The Congolese Catholic Church leaders attributed the challenges ordinary people in DRC face to “tribalism, electoral fraud, and the manipulation of almost all social strata” and added that the highlighted social ills “are increasing the suffering of the people.”

They challenged politicians to come to terms with the correct meaning of politics, prioritizing the people of God.

“Politics is the highest form of charity, because its purpose is not to serve oneself but to serve others and society — the people first,” they said.

The bishops cautioned their compatriots against despair, saying that the Congolese people should “refuse to die and remain hopeful, praying unceasingly for their conversion and that of their executioners both inside and outside the country, confident that help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

They prayed that the “image of the Congolese, distorted by evil, be restored.”

In their statement, the bishops acknowledged with appreciation “the dynamism of the people of God” and the heroism of priests and women and men religious amid “endemic” insecurity.

“Almost everywhere, parishes are being created, church buildings are coming up, presbyteries are being improved, and many other services [are happening],” the bishops said, adding that the planned beatification of four martyrs — including three members of Xaverian missionaries and a priest — is scheduled to take place Aug. 18 in the Diocese of Uvira and is “a cause for joy.”

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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