, 16 July, 2020 / 8:02 PM
The Clergy of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have, in a collective statement, expressed their solidarity to their Local Ordinary, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo after his message during the country’s Independence Day anniversary drew criticism from a section of religious leaders.
In their July 14 statement addressed to Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, the Clergy of the Archdiocese in DR Congo’s capital, Kinshasa say they learned “with astonishment and bitterness that the homily you delivered during the Mass celebrated on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, on the occasion of 60 years of the accession of our country to national and international sovereignty, aroused in the national media a vast campaign of vilification against your person.”
“Such fury, which is unjustified, is unacceptable. We condemn it with vigor and firmness, as it is an expression not only of bad faith but also, and above all, of the lack of a democratic culture,” members of the Assembly of the Clergy of Kinshasa (ACKIN) add.
In his homily during the June 30 Eucharistic celebration organized for the DRC’s independence diamond jubilee, Cardinal Ambongo made known his thoughts about the unity government saying, “The ruling coalition has lost its purpose. Instead of working together around a common program of governance, the members of the coalition no longer trust each other. They have developed a dangerous relationship of rivalry that risks dragging the whole country into chaos.”
Terming Cardinal Ambongo’s message “hate speech,” religious leaders drawn from some six denominations in DR Congo expressed, in a joint statement, their criticism of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa.
“Religious denominations are seriously concerned about the return of ‘crusading gospels’ and the rise of hate speech from the pulpit of truth, which is intended to proclaim in humility love, peace, justice, tolerance, forgiveness, reconciliation and brotherhood without bias to conform to the vocation of the church in the midst of the village," the religious leaders wrote.
In addition, the former Presidential candidate, Noel Tshiani, described Cardinal Ambongo’s homily as “threatening and violent,” MediaCongo reported.
Reacting to these criticisms, the Clergy of Kinshasa Archdiocese have thrown their weight behind their Shepherd and described his Independence Day homily “prophetic message”.
“In the face of this media outburst, we would like to express our full support for your prophetic message, which awakens consciences to the values of truth and justice,” the Clerics say in their July 14 statement, adding, “In our pastoral action, we will take care to pass on your challenge in such a way that it has a profound impact on our society.”
They go on, in their collective message to Cardinal Ambongo, “The Church has often been persecuted because of the truth, which she has the mission to proclaim. But Christ, who promised to be with us always until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20), sustains us in our commitment to truth and justice, to peace and solidarity.”
They make reference to the Gospel of St. John, “In the world, you will have to suffer. But keep your courage, I have conquered the world” and reassure the Cardinal of the Lord’s closeness “in the midst of the torments and upheavals inherent in this mission.”
In their collective message signed by the President and Vice President of ACKIN Fr. Christian Ngazain and Fr. Jean-Marie Konde respectively, the Clerics also express their appreciation for the Holy Father’s message of solidarity to their country.
“We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who bears in his heart the concern for our country and never ceases to pray for us. The kind words he addressed to our compatriots during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, June 28, 2020, went straight to our hearts,” the Clerics of Kinshasa say.
The Priests also thank Pope Francis for appointing three Auxiliary Bishops for their Archdiocese and express their prayerful solidarity with the Holy Father saying, “We in turn want to reassure him of our fervent prayers for himself and for his ministry as Successor of Peter.”
“May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Congo, intercede for you to tirelessly pursue your prophetic mission of watchman and awakener of conscience, and may she obtain for us the graces necessary to build a new and prosperous Congo,” the Clerics conclude.
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