According to the Local Ordinary of Bukavu, seven Parishes, a school, a health center and a Convent were attacked between March and October 2021, in the towns of Karhale, Ciherano, Burhiba, Cahi, Nyamugo, Kadutu, Kanyamulande, Mugogo and Cirirri, the last of these having been attacked last week, on October 6.
“The consequences of all these attacks are enormous, not to speak of the trauma and the physical and psychological scars they have left, fortunately without any actual loss of life,” the Congolese Archbishop says.
The Pontifical charity organization reports that for years now, the Provinces of the Eastern part of DRC have been terrorized by rebel militias.
“Ethnic conflicts, population movements and the desire for access to valuable mineral resources have played an important role in all this,” ACN reports, and adds, “In recent years there has also been a growing element of radical Islam.”
Archbishop Rusengo lamented that many of the attacks are occurring close to the places where the forces of law and order are stationed.
The Congolese Archbishop told ACN that while the terrible situation they are suffering at present is due to the lack of resources, unemployment and poverty the people are forced to live in, it is also “appropriate to consider the living conditions of the soldiers and police, not to mention the porous nature of our frontiers with neighboring countries and the absence of any genuine government authority throughout our territory.”
The Pontifical charity organization notes that there is a “complete absence” of State-provided security in Bukavu, and that the Catholic Church is one of the few bodies speaking out against injustice and violence in the region.
For this reason, the Archbishop who has been at the helm of Congolese Archdiocese since June 2006 believes the attacks appear to be “targeting particularly the structures of the Church.”
Archbishop Rusengo poses, in reference to the attacks, “Is it an attempt to muzzle the Church, given that she is one of the few agencies still raising her voice to plead the cause of this suffering population? Nor should we forget that in speaking of the Church we are speaking of God, who is not welcomed by the secular political and economic authorities. Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
The 65-year-old Archbishop has called on the people of God under his pastoral care to organize themselves to protect the churches and Catholic institutions from future attacks.