Protracted Violence, Emergence of New Militia among DR Congo Catholic Bishops’ Concerns

Members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO). Credit: CENCO

Persistent violence in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the emergence of new groups of militia are key concerns of Catholic Bishops in the Central African nation. 

In a statement issued at the end of their June 19-22 Plenary Assembly, members of the  National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) lament, “We are witnessing the persistence and worsening of insecurity, especially in the eastern part of our country.” 

Security challenges, alongside “the proliferation of armed groups, are of the utmost concern to us," CENCO members say in their Thursday, June 22 statement.

They also decry the revival of the March 23 Movement (M23) in the country, saying, "With the resurgence of the M23, supported by Rwanda, part of the national territory has been beyond the control of our armed forces for over a year."

"In the same vein," the Catholic Church leaders say, "We are witnessing the emergence and expansion of the Mobondo militia in the western part of our country, which is spreading terror right up to the gates of the capital, Kinshasa."


Between May 11 and 13, members of the Mobondo militia reportedly attacked villages in Kiwango Province, around 75 kilometers from Kinshasa, killing at least 11 people.

In their June 22 statement, Catholic Bishops in DRC also express concern about the Special Brigade of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a wing of the ruling party, “which sometimes collaborates with the police to hunt down political opponents and other peaceful citizens with a critical view of the country’s current governance.”

CENCO members say it is unfortunate that their recommendations on security and national cohesion are not adhered to.

They cite their November 2022 statement in which they called for concerted efforts to address security challenges in the country that is home to Africa's largest Catholic population, saying, “The hour is critical. Our country is in danger."

In their June 22 statement, CENCO members acknowledge with appreciation the diplomatic, political, and military initiatives taken by the Congolese government to restore peace in the Central African nation.

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 "We particularly salute the bravery and patriotism of our Armed Forces, despite the difficult working conditions," Catholic Bishops in DRC say.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.