Congolese Cardinal Highlights Ways “to honor” His Predecessor, Urges Unity in Diversity

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo addressing the faithful during Cardinal Monsengwo’s funeral Mass. Credit: Archdiocese of Kinshasa

Uniting beyond “tribe, religion or social class” would be one of the best ways of honoring the late Congolese Catholic Church leader, Laurent Cardinal Monsengwo, the late Cardinal’s successor in the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has said.

In his Tuesday, July 20 homily during Cardinal Monsengwo’s funeral Mass, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo highlighted various ways of honoring his predecessor who died on July 11 aged 81, underscoring the need to foster the values the late Cardinal espoused.   

“The best way to honor the memory of Cardinal Monsengwo is to continue his struggle and to accomplish God's work for our humanity, of which he was but the humble servant. The work of God in the current situation of our country is to see the Congo standing, united and prosperous,” Cardinal Ambongo said.

The Congolese Cardinal eulogized his predecessor as an “eminent Pastor” who leaves behind a legacy of working toward unity in diversity in DRC.

Cardinal Monsengwo was committed to God’s mission in DRC, the Archbishop of Kinshasa said, explaining that the Congolese are expected to live together “without distinction of language, tribe, religion or social class, join hands to make the Congo a better place (and) to push back the frontiers of injustice, selfishness and exploitation of the poor.”


To honor the late Cardinal, he said, the Congolese are expected to commit themselves “to building in peace the Congo of our dreams, a Congo that is more beautiful than before, as we sing in our national anthem.”

Another way to honor the Archbishop emeritus of Kinshasa who died in France while undergoing treatment, Cardinal Ambongo said, is to use the resources in the Central African nation for the good of all people “and not for a small group of privileged people.”

“We cannot pay tribute to the memory of Cardinal Monsengwo if we allow the population to languish in misery while those in power live in opulence and impunity,” the member of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) Capuchin said during the Holy Mass held at the Courtyard of the Peoples' Palace in Kinshasa. 

Honoring the late Catholic Church leader “is also to become artisans of peace, justice and the establishment of the rule of law, so that people can live together in peace and national reconciliation,” Cardinal Ambongo further said.

The late Cardinal Monsengwo who retired in November 2018 is known to have championed justice and civil rights of the marginalized in the Central African nation and beyond.

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The secular civil society entities in DRC grew out of the structures of the Catholic Church under his leadership.

In 1991, the late Cardinal chaired the Sovereign National Conference that created a framework for the post-Mobutu political transition.

While the process was interrupted by a protracted civil war due to deliberate efforts to ouster Mobutu, Cardinal Monsengwo-led Catholic Church fostered peacemaking efforts through negotiations, leading to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (2001-2003) that ultimately contributed to the end of the civil strife.

In the July 20 homily, Cardinal Ambongo recalled his predecessor’s message during the Sovereign National Conference saying, “Zaire can get out of this mess, Zaire can get out of this mess. Zaire can pull through, Zaire must pull through. Discouragement is not a Christian's fault. God asks each of us to do our best. And if each of us does, God will do the rest.”

Cardinal Monsengwo firmly believed that DRC “will become a state of law,” the Archbishop of Kinshasa said.


Under the leadership of the late Cardinal, the “influential Catholic Church mediated the December 31, 2016 Saint-Silvestre Peace Accord, which was supposed to have led to the formation of a transitional government, reforms within the electoral commission, and elections by the end of 2017, without Kabila as a candidate,” the Africa Center for Strategic Studies reported.

During the 2018 crisis occasioned by President Joseph Kabila’s bid to vie for a third term that was constitutionally prohibited, Cardinal Monsengwo was described as being highly influential and the most listened to voice in DRC.

In February, the Laity Coordination Committee (CLC) in DRC recognized late Cardinal Monsengwo for his “concrete and exceptional acts,” giving him the Bakanja-Kimbangu Grand Citizen Merit Award.

"To honor the memory of Cardinal Monsengwo is also to become artisans of peace, justice and the establishment of the rule of law so that people can live together in peace and national reconciliation," Cardinal Ambongo further said during his predecessor’s funeral Mass July 20.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.