Cardinal Ambongo Decries “shameless predation” of DR Congo’s Resources by Neighbours

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa Archdiocese in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC). Credit: Kinshasa Archdiocese

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo has condemned countries that neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for working in cahoots with multinationals to rob the country of its natural resources.

As a result, large parts of DRC are experiencing protracted violence, the Archbishop of DRC’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kinshasa has said, and called on the international community to help in restoring the Central African country’s territorial integrity.

In his homily at Holy Mass he celebrated for peace in Eastern DRC on February 24, Cardinal Ambongo asserted that peace in the embattled region would only be achieved if the country’s neighbours are made to stop their “shameless predation” of its natural resources.

“Aggressors and multinationals have joined forces to lay their hands on the Congo's riches, to the detriment of and in contempt for the dignity of peaceful Congolese citizens, created in the image and likeness of God. How far would this contempt go? How far would the trivialization of human life, however sacred, go?” the Congolese Cardinal said during the Holy Mass he presided over at Our Lady of Congo Cathedral of his Metropolitan See. 

The Catholic Church leader said he is “convinced that bringing peace back to the DR Congo also means putting an end to the violation of our country's territorial integrity and the shameless predation of its natural resources.”


The February 24 Eucharistic celebration was Cardinal Ambongo’s response to a request that the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) made on February 20, encouraging the people of God in DRC to “intensify prayers for peace” and Local Ordinaries to offer Holy Mass for peace in the Eastern part of the country.

In the statement, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani Archdiocese lamented that the security situation in the country had been “deteriorating, especially in the eastern part” and recommended that “a special prayer for peace be said at the end of each Mass, as the Church does from time to time in certain circumstances.”

In his February 24 homily, Cardinal Ambongo traced insecurity in DRC to the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which over 800,000 people were killed. During the genocide, over 2 million others were displaced and forced to seek refuge across the country’s borders. Some who found their way to DRC are said to have brought the war with them.

“Our populations, especially in the east of the country, have been living through a veritable tragedy and torment for almost three decades,” Cardinal Ambongo said, and recalled that “right at the dawn of these conflicts in August 1994”, Catholic Bishops in DRC had “sounded the alarm”, alerting the country's leaders and the international community to the risks of the crisis.

The Catholic Church leaders, he said, had expressed concern over “the transfer of the Rwandan conflict to our country.”

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“Despite this warning, 30 years on, the situation is bitterly grim: millions of people are still dead and displaced, thousands of women have been raped, families have been broken up, children have been orphaned, infrastructures have been destroyed, and so on,” the Archbishop of Kinshasa lamented. 

He continued, “In reality, what appeared to be an accidental transfer of the Rwandan inter-ethnic conflict has ended up revealing its hidden agenda.”

The Local Ordinary of Kinshasa Archdiocese, who doubles as the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) went on to decry what he described as “expansionist ambitions” of countries bordering DRC especially to the East, where he said there is “systematic plundering” of the country’s resources.

“Over the years, various missions and organizations have reported the expansionist ambitions of certain neighbouring countries in the East, and the systematic plundering of the Congolese sub-soil's riches by multinationals, under the cover of internal grievance groups,” he said.

The Congolese member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap) further criticized the international community’s inaction as DRC is plundered and made to undergo violence, noting that the silence amounts to “complicity”.


He found it inconceivable that with the means at its disposal, the United Nations has failed to restore peace to DRC.

The Catholic Church leader, who was elevated to Cardinal during the October 2019 Consistory and reappointed to Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals (C9) after the expiry of the initial October 2020 mandate made reference to the Holy Father’s appeal, who, during his visit to DRC last year, urged the international community to stop plundering the African country’s resources, saying, “Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: Africa is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.”

The European Union in particular, has expressed interest to work with Rwanda on “resources plundered in DR Congo,” Cardinal Ambongo said.

“How can we understand that, at the very moment when it is finally denouncing the direct involvement of Rwanda and its army in supporting the M23 armed group, the European Union is signing a long-term mining cooperation agreement with Rwanda over resources plundered in DR Congo?” he queried.

The Congolese Cardinal, who started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2005 as Bishop of DRC’s Bokungu-Ikela Diocese urged his compatriots to work together in unity “to block the path of the enemy.”

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“At a time when territorial integrity and national sovereignty are being put to the test, I call on the Nation to unite in order to block the path of the enemy,” he said, and appealed to DRC politicians to work together for peace in the country that is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

In his message for the Lenten Season, which he described as “a time of prayer, sharing and privation, a time of conversion of hearts”, Cardinal Ambongo said, “I pray to Christ, Prince of Peace, to enlighten us with the light of his justice and truth. May his peace be in the land of our ancestors and in our hearts.”

On February 25, Pope Francis said he was “following with concern the increase in violence in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

In his traditional Sunday appearance to the public at Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father expressed his awareness of the prayer appeal of the members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) for prayer.

CENCO members. He said, “I join the Bishops' invitation to pray for peace, hoping for the cessation of clashes and the search for sincere and constructive dialogue,” Pope Francis said on February 25, referring to the appeal of the Catholic Bishops in DRC, who, on February 20, urged the people of God in DRC to show solidarity with the inhabitants of the Eastern part of the country through intensified prayers.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.