“More collaboration than difficulties”: Congolese Cardinal on Church-State Relations

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo with participants attending the interdisciplinary colloquium which the Omnia Omnibus University of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kinshasa organized. Credit: Omnia Omnibus University

There is “more collaboration” between the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “than difficulties”, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo has said.

In his inaugural lecture during the opening ceremony of an interdisciplinary colloquium which the Omnia Omnibus University of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kinshasa organized, Cardinal Ambongo called for a decolonization of knowledge in order to achieve true independence.

“Between Church and the State, there's more collaboration than difficulties in relations,” the Congolese Cardinal said Monday, May 27.

He added, “The church is always falsely accused of being allied with the Congolese political opposition, until the latter comes to power and considers that the church is no longer its ally.”

 “From the pre-independence years to the present day, the Bishops of Congo, through their National Episcopal Conference, have worked in almost every sector of national life for the advent of a better Congo,” Cardinal Ambongo said during the May 27-29 colloquium on the theme “A Congolese Church in a Congolese State: Commemorating the 35th anniversary of the death of Joseph-Albert Cardinal Malula.”


The Local Ordinary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kinshasa, who also serves as the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) said Cardinal Malula, in his time, had “contributed enormously to raising the awareness of Congolese and African intellectuals in order to reconquer freedom, becoming an advisor to the African Conscience group, whose Manifesto he published.”

He continued, “Through education, Cardinal Malula sought to restore the dignity of the human person, especially that of African women in general and Congolese women in particular, insisting on training young people in moral values such as truth, excellence, and chastity.”

In the Church, Cardinal Ambongo said the late Cardinal who was recognized as a national hero by the nation in June 2010, worked on a “profound idea of the inculturation of the Gospel message by African peoples and the Congolese.”

Cardinal Ambongo called on Congolese to decolonize knowledge, both mental and political, to achieve true independence.

“We have remained for over 60 years in the mindset of a people to be colonized again,” he said.

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The Congolese Cardinal continued, “We must verify what we have done to date and propose new perspectives.”

Reflecting on the objectives of the colloquium, the Congolese member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap) said the meeting “recalls the actions of this great ecclesial figure that is Cardinal Malula, without stopping at an exaltation of the past.”

“The colloquium's mission is to bring together the prophetic voice of the Congolese episcopate in the socio-political arena Cardinal Ambongo said, and explained that the symposium would be organized around 3 sub-themes, the first titled “A life dedicated to the service and condition of the Church”, would address the pastoral action of Cardinal in the Church of Congo.

The second theme, “A life dedicated to the service and promotion of Congolese society”, will examine Cardinal Malula's questioning of truth in Congolese politics.

The last theme of the conference undertakes research into the multidimensional basis of the relationship between church and state. 


On his part, the Rector of the Omnia Omnibus University, Fr. Christian Ngazain said, “The theme of this symposium could arouse great interest in harmonious collaboration between the Congolese state and the church.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.