Congolese Bishop Known for Marketplace Preaching Elevated as Brazzaville Coadjutor

Archbishop-elect Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou (left), Archbishop Anatole Milandou (Center) and Archbishop Francisco Escalante Molina (right) shortly after the official announcement at the headquarters of the Episcopal Conference of Congo Brazzaville (CEC).

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou as Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo Brazzaville (Congo).

The Saturday, April 18 appointment was announced by the Apostolic Nuncio in Congo, Archbishop Francisco Escalante Molina at the Conference Hall of the Episcopal conference of Congo (CEC).

Located in the Southeastern corner of the Republic of Congo Brazzaville, Brazzaville Archdiocese, which is the only Metropolitan See in the central African nation has 74-year-old Archbishop Anatole Milandou as the Local Ordinary. The country has eight dioceses.

Known for daily marketplace preaching, the Archbishop-elect has been at the helm of Congo-Brazzaville’s Dolisie diocese since August 2013.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, the Archbishop-elect revealed that in his diocese of Dolisie, he set out to counter the Islamic influence on Catholics and the proliferation of Protestants by preaching at the local market, every day of the week.


“I go out onto the market square and, for seven days, together with a lay helper and a religious sister, we preach, explain the sacraments, and so forth,” the Archbishop-elect told ACN in April 2018 and added, “We also make good use of our local Catholic radio station, which is widely listened to, and in May we organize a large Marian procession, which drew 300 people in 2015 and 8,100 in 2017!”

The 55-year-old Prelate described the marketplace preaching as “a popular approach,” and added, “we also focus on Adoration.”

“During our evangelization campaign, on the first day I dance with the people, and then from the second day onwards, I quote them Matthew 6:6:  When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you,” the Congolese Prelate, who was ordained a priest of Kinkala diocese, southeastern Congo in August 1993, told ACN International.

According to him, his style of evangelizing has the purpose of recovering the lost glory of the Catholic Church in the petroleum-rich country, where “although still widely listened to, (the Catholic Church) is no longer the Church of reference.”

The Congolese Prelate told ACN that between 1995 and 2005 the Catholic population shrank from 60 percent of Catholics to 40 percent, a decline that made them (Catholics) feel as if they “had been wrung dry.”

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“It was something like a hemorrhage,” the Archbishop-elect had said in reference to the decline in Catholic population in his country and attributed it to politicians who “identified the Catholic Church as the sole institution capable of overshadowing them.”

“They (politicians) wanted to weaken her by financially strengthening the Pentecostal churches and creating them into a federation. They pilloried the Catholic Church. It was high time for me to go out into the streets!” the Prelate told ACN during the April 2018 interview.

He had noted that though a number of people were returning to the Catholic Church, due to poverty, more Catholics were being lured by money to convert to Islam.

“Alain. He was one of our choirboys; then he disappeared from one day to the next, and there was no sign of life from him for two years – when one of our parishioners found him performing his ablutions in a shop,” the Prelate had recalled, adding, “I asked him since when he had become a Muslim. He replied, Father, when I was your altar server, did you give me a penny? With Islam I was given a scholarship, a wife and my shop.

 “They had sent him abroad to study the Koran. In return, he was given work, and today he is in charge of recruiting other young men! That story really shook me up,” the Prelate had added.


Then serving as the Local Ordinary of Congo-Brazzaville’s youngest diocese, the Prelate decried the challenges facing his priests saying, “In my diocese my priests’ first concern is to get enough to eat. If one of them were to have serious health problems, I don’t know what we’d do.”

The Archdiocese of Brazzaville where Bishop Manamika has been appointed was erected on June 4, 1886 as a Vicariate Apostolic of French Congo before changing its name to Vicariate Apostolic of Brazzaville in June 1992.

Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Metropolitan See measures 14,450 square kilometres and has 56.9 percent Catholic population, according to 2018 statistics.