“It is with great shock”: Catholic Bishops in DR Congo on Reports of Pentecost Sunday Coup Attempt

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

Members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) are shocked to hear reports of a coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the early hours of Pentecost Sunday, May 19.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, May 21, CENCO members say they “strongly” condemn the reported attack as undermining the democratic institutions of the Central African nation.

A group of some 50 people armed in camouflage fatigues attacked the residences of DRC’s Prime Minister, the country’s Minister of defence, and a senior politician tipped to become the Speaker of the National Assembly, Reuters reported.

The Reuters report further indicates that the leader of the attempted coup was killed and some 50 people, including three American citizens, arrested.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, May 21, CENCO members say, “It is with great shock that we learned through the media, on this Pentecost Sunday, of the attacks which were perpetrated in the early hours, more precisely from 4:30 to 5:30 am of this Sunday, May 19, 2024, against the Palais de la Nation, seat of the Presidency of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as against the residence of Mr. Vital Kamerhe, candidate for Speaker of the National Assembly.”


“CENCO expresses its dismay and strongly condemns these attacks, which have undermined the institutions of the Republic and caused the death of men,” Catholic Bishops in DRC say in their statement dated May 20.

They add, “At a time when efforts are being made to curb the insecurity sown by foreign and national armed groups in the East of the country, particularly in the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, and when spirits are supposed to be high, it is unacceptable that an armed group should take up residence in the heart of Kinshasa, the country's capital.”

“It is most regrettable that the security services have been taunted,” CENCO members say.

In the statement, they express their condolences to the “bereaved families and to all those affected by these acts of violence”, and “entrust to God's mercy the innocent people who lost their lives in these attacks.”

CENCO members weigh in on images circulating on social media showing Bishops and the presumed mastermind of the attacks, identified as Christian Malanga. They say, “It turns out that Bishops, in their pastoral solicitude, allow themselves to be approached, anywhere, by any human being, for photos or videos.”

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“This in no way implies the existence of a special relationship with these people. They therefore condemn any recuperation of these images by malicious people for unhealthy populist ends,” the Catholic Bishops further say.

The suspected mastermind, CENCO members say, “is not a member of any official institution of the Catholic Church; neither at the level of the Holy See at the Vatican in Rome, nor at the level of the local Church in DR Congo.”

“His despicable acts do not engage the Catholic Church in any way,” they emphasize. 

Faced with this “act of contempt for the inviolability of our state institutions”, CENCO members call on the competent authorities to “make a greater commitment to strengthening national cohesion.”

They caution the Congolese people against giving “in to fear “and urge them “to remain vigilant.”


In their May 20 statement, the Catholic Church leaders reassure the people of God in DRC of their spiritual solidarity.

They implore, “May the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of courage and life, flood the hearts of all; and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Congo, may the Lord bless the DR Congo and ensure its peace.”

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.