, 24 April, 2020 / 7:25 AM
The Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo was on Wednesday, April 22 appointed to oversee the Solidary Fund against COVID-19 in his country, a move that has been recognized by the Conference of Bishops as a voluntary social service with the purpose of saving lives.
DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi announced Cardinal Ambongo’s appointment through a statement that reads in part, “The management committee of the National Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19 pandemic (FNSCC), will be under the coordination of Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa. The coordinator will be assisted in his tasks by Pastor Bokondoa, who will assume the duties of deputy Coordinator.”
The statement from the office of President Tshisekedi further reads, “By placing men of God in the management of the FNSCC and members of civil society, Félix Tshisekedi expects that the 80 million Congolese will find satisfaction in the management of those who are supposed to preach by example.”
For President Tshisekedi, appointing Church leaders at the helm of the Solidarity Fund “is a question of guaranteeing transparency in management, traceability of assistance operations, and control of all donations intended for the response to COVID-19 throughout the national territory.”
Catholic Bishops in DRC have welcomed the appointment saying, “This is a social service that has been requested of the Church through the Cardinal. We can only be proud of it.”
Speaking on behalf of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), the Secretary General of CENCO, Fr. Donatien Nshole has been quoted as telling 7sur7.cd in an interview April 23, “It is an additional voluntary service whose role is to mobilize the means to save lives and get us out of this crisis.”
The Congolese Cleric added, “It is a one-time service that stops at the end of the pandemic. It's quite normal that the Church intervenes to help the people.”
Cardinal Ambongo will be heading a 12-person FNSCC team tasked with the responsibility to solicit finances that will facilitate the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the Central African nation.
Created on April 6 by President Tshisekedi, FNSCC exists to put together resources that will support various initiatives including the support for medical personnel and services in hospitals.
FNSCC also aims to support enterprises and other structures engaged in economic activity that would be particularly affected by the economic, financial and social consequences of the spread of COVID-19 and the measures taken to limit its spread.
The Solidarity Fund has also been set up to finance essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the population and health workers who are on the front line throughout the country.
The Fund will also assist the COVID-19 Multisector Response Committee to enable it monitor and detect the disease and to strengthen laboratory capacity through training and the provision of appropriate equipment.
FNSCC will operate during the entire period of the state of health emergency that was declared by President Tshisekedi on March 24. The State, public or private companies and donors will contribute to the Fund.
The April 22 appointment came days after President Tshisekedi reached out to religious leaders to seek coordinated efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, Cardinal Ambongo who headed the delegation of religious leaders described the coming together as essential combating COVID-19, which he described as a “common and invisible enemy.”
The 60-year-old Cardinal who chairs the Platform of Religious Denominations in DRC also expressed the desire of religious leaders to be actively involved in the fight against COVID-19 by raising awareness to their faithful through various channels and communication media.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa