Chancery of DR Congo’s Kinshasa Archdiocese Decries Sunday “degrading treatment” Cardinal Ambongo Suffered at Airport

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa Archdiocese in DR Congo. Credit: CENCO

The Chancery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has decried the “degrading treatment” that Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo suffered under officials at the N'djili International Airport.

On Sunday, April 14, security officials at Ndjili international airport reportedly denied Cardinal Ambongo to access the VIP lounge. The Congolese Cardinal, a member of the Council of Cardinals (C9), who advise Pope Francis on governing the Church and reforming the Curia, was en route to Rome.

In a statement issued April 14, the Chancellor of Kinshasa Archdiocese says he suspects the “degrading treatment” is linked to Cardinal Ambongo’s “prophetic pronouncements”, particularly his criticism of the Congolese government in his  2024 Easter Message and terms the move “unfortunate”.

“The Chancery of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa condemns in the strongest terms the degrading treatment meted out by airport officials to His Eminence Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo on his way to Rome at midday on Sunday, 14 April 2024,” Fr. Clet-clay Mamvemba says.

Fr. Mamvemba notes that “many compatriots present at N'djili International Airport witnessed the scene and were outraged.”


The Chancellor of Kinshasa Archdiocese goes on to explain the objective of Cardinal Ambongo’s frequent trips abroad.

“As you know, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa is a member of the C9, the Council of Cardinals assisting Pope Francis in the Church Reform project,” he says, and adds, “It was for this mission that he was traveling.”

As a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, Fr. Mamvemba continues, the Local Ordinary of Kinshasa, who doubles as the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) “holds a diplomatic passport.”

“But why is he now being denied this status, which has always been accorded to all Cardinals, even internationally?” the Chancellor poses.

“It would be a pity if this treatment follows on from his prophetic pronouncements, notably his Easter night homily in which he challenged all those involved, in any way, in the crisis raging in our country,” he says.

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The Chancellor of Kinshasa refers to the national and international community as “witness” of the “degrading treatment”, and invites “the faithful of the Archdiocese and people of good will to pray for the Cardinal.”

In his 2024 Easter Message, Cardinal Ambongo decried persistent security challenges in DRC, and described the Central African nation as “seriously ill” and in coma.

He criticized the security agencies in DRC for not being proactive in defending the people and their properties, saying, “Beyond the speech we are making here, completely useless speeches, the reality is that the others continue to advance and occupy the East of our country. This is obvious for the simple reason that Congo has no strength to defend the integrity of its country.”

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 said he finds it unfortunate that politicians engage in petty quarrels over a “big cake”, ignoring the violent conflicts in the country.

In his 2024 Easter Message, the Congolese member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap) implored, “Let us pray for our leaders, the leaders of this country who are completely, I would say, out of touch with the suffering of their people.”


Meanwhile, on April 8, the Governor of South Ubangi Province in DRC, Jean-Claude Mabenze Gbey Benz, issued an order renaming the Kermesse Space, a ceremonial park located in the town of Gemena, to “Tata Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo Besungu Park.”

Governor Gbey Benz said the new name is “worth its weight” given that Cardinal Ambongo is “a worthy son of South-Ubangi and is a dignified member of the Roman Catholic Church in DRC, Africa and the rest of the world, as one of Pope Francis' advisors.”

“We have nothing to give you that can surpass the joy you have given us,” the Governor further said during the April 8 Eucharistic celebration that Cardinal Ambongo presided over.

Referring to the ceremonial park, he added, “We're going to turn it into a good public garden where we'll place your statue so that our young people who are in difficulty and who come here will say: if God had taken Cardinal Ambongo here to raise him where he is now, we too could have the solution to our problems.”

In his remarks during the April 8 occasion, Cardinal Ambongo said he had the Congolese Governor that “history is made; and the gesture we've just made is part of that history.”

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“You can give gifts, materials...You can use them afterwards, maybe you forget. But this gesture goes down in history,” he further said, and added, “I'd like to thank the Governor and Mayor of Gemena and all their subjects for this initiative.”

Cardinal Ambongo went on to caution Congolese politicians against hate speech that he said fosters division in the country. He said, “Politicians love division and also want to divide us. When they come to power, do they care about us?”

“We are children of the same family. Children of God. Let no one divide us. Always be united,” the Congolese Cardinal said, and continued, “Our country will not move forward if we are divided. Hate speech, tribalist rhetoric, defamation, the low blows that some people mount for their own honor to gain access to power. Let's not follow them.”

The newly renamed Tata Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo Besungu Park is a popular place that plays host to large gatherings.

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.