Easter Sunday Invasion of Catholic Parish in DR Congo “more than a sacrilege”, Bishop Says

Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Bunyuka. Credit: Radio Moto

The Bishop of Butembo-Beni Diocese in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has “strongly” condemned the invasion of the Catholic Parish in his Episcopal See that occurred on Easter Sunday.

In an interview with Moto Radio, Butembi-Beni’s Diocesan Radio station, reported Tuesday, April 19, Bishop Melchisedec Sikuli Paluku said that the invasion that was allegedly carried out by Maï-Maï militias was “more than a sacrilege”. He invited those behind the invasion to seek the path of conversion.

On Easter Sunday, April 17, a group of armed Maï-Maï militias reportedly invaded Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Bunyuka located in the Bashu chiefdom, near the town of Butembo, after the first Holy Mass and disrupted the mood of the Easter celebration. 

Members of the militia allegedly demanded to have the Priest's cassock and missal and to address the congregation "about the Word of God,” eye witnesses quoted the militiamen as saying.

In the interview with the Diocesan Radio, Bishop Paluku termed the invasion as “very bad news on Easter Sunday.”


“The invasion of this Parish, to look for Priests, to ask for liturgical objects, is serious, and more than a sacrilege,” the Local Ordinary of Butembi-Beni said, and added, “It means that this group that comes to disrupt Masses did not come by chance.”

The invasion of the Catholic Parish amid Easter Sunday celebration means that the invaders “had prepared their move”, Bishop Paluku said.

“The fact that they went to the altar and took the missal is already a profanation,” he lamented.

The 70-year-old Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of the Congolese Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in August 1998 went on to “strongly condemn this invasion, this disruption of worship on the most sacred day, the most fundamental of our Christian faith.”

“One is not obliged to believe; even if one does not believe in something, one must at least leave freedom to others,” he said, adding that “religious freedom is constitutional and requires respect for the faithful to worship without being disturbed.”

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Those investigating this invasion need to also establish the whereabouts of two Priests who were abducted from the same Parish that was invaded five years ago, Bishop Paluku said, making reference to the 16 July 2017 when Fr. Charles Kipasa and Fr. Jean-Pierre Akilimali were, according to Agenzia Fides report, abducted from the Our Lady of Angels in Bunyuka.

In his interview with Radio Moto reported April 19, Bishop Paluku invited the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday invasion to seek conversion. He said, “Let them be converted.”

The Congolese Catholic Bishop also called on the people of God to “continue to pray for our Diocese and our country.”

Following the invasion of the Parish, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) quickly intervened and an exchange of fire ensued, resulting in the death of one militiaman, Mot Radio has reported.

In the report, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Angels is quoted as saying the invasion caused panic and that no other Mass was celebrated thereafter. 


“Everyone ran away as best as they could because it happened at the end of the first Mass and there was no celebration of other Masses,” Fr. Hilaire Kamavu has been quoted as saying in an April 18 report by Radio Moto.

He added, “We are afraid until now because we are overwhelmed by the faithful who have taken refuge in our house. In any case, we are very affected by the event. We are the shepherds there; we are waiting for what the Holy Spirit will breathe into us.”

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.