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Congolese Cardinal Urges Bishops to Participate in Safeguarding the Congo Basin

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo addressing participants at the workshop on the environment in DR Congo's capital, Kinshasa/ Credit: CENCO

The Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo has, at the ongoing workshop on the environment, called on his brother Bishops to seek ways of protecting the world’s second largest river basin, the Congo Basin. 

“It is certainly impossible to avoid the use of products from nature in general and the Congo Basin in particular. However, it is entirely possible to coordinate and rationalize action on nature and especially on the Congo Basin in order to return this universal heritage to its original name of beauty and improve its capacity to offer all humanity its precious services,” Cardinal Ambongo said Monday, June 21. 

He added, “We are all responsible for the survival of our Congo Basin.” 

The Congolese Cardinal was speaking during the opening session of the weeklong workshop organized by the Episcopal Commission for Natural Resources of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO). 

The workshop has been organized under the theme, “The Church in DRC facing the challenges of the environment and natural resources for the protection of the Congo Basin and the safeguarding of our common home.”

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In his message, Cardinal Ambongo said the theme “challenges our essence of communion and responsibility.”

“To commit ourselves as Bishops to the protection and safeguarding of our common home is a mark of our communion with the Holy Father and with each other,” he said, adding, “before the disaster caused by the violence that our insatiable modern societies exert against nature, Pope Francis raised the option of calling on all protagonists to protect it.”

Making reference to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’, he said, “This sister (earth) is crying out because of the damages we are causing her through the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has deposited.”

Cardinal Ambongo noted that it is through the Bishops that the Holy Father’s call for environmental conservation can be realized. 

“That is why we must remain united among ourselves and around this vision of Pope Francis. It will be up to us, as pastors, to initiate the people of God entrusted to us,” the Congolese Cardinal said, adding that the Holy Father “wants the whole human family to be involved in the search for solutions to the urgent need to safeguard our common home.”

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Cardinal Ambongo said that the Workshop, which brings together Catholic Bishops in the country “will make us more attentive and awake to the current management of the environment and natural resources."

He added that information received in the weeklong event will help the Church leaders "to develop pastoral guidelines on environmental and natural resource issues."

In his message during the session, CENCO's President, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa said the Bishops' main aim is to "promote education of our people in respect for the environment for the protection of the Congo Basin." 

"This is the second lung of the planet and the DRC is responsible for 60% of the forest in this Basin. Thus, we have the mission to advocate for the dignity of people and the improvement of the living conditions of the populations who live in this environment to be protected for the benefit of humanity," Archbishop Utembi said. 

The Archbishop of Kisangani also noted that the ongoing workshop is a follow-up of the 2019 Amazon Synod and part of the celebration of the Laudato Si' year.

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