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Sunday Storming of Congolese Cardinal’s Residence, Derogatory Remarks, Strongly Condemned

Some of the youths who stormed the residence of Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo in DR Congo's capital, Kinshasa. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The storming of the Congolese Cardinal’s residence by a group of “unidentified persons” on Sunday morning and their uttering of inappropriate words have been strongly condemned.

A group of young Congolese reportedly stormed the Lindonge center in the town of Limete before they accessed the residence of Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, chanting songs against the Cardinal and throwing stones at his residence.

In a statement following the incident, the Chancellor of Kinshasa Archdiocese in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) highlights the nature of the storming and condemns “this irresponsible attitude.”

“In the morning of Sunday, 1 August 2021, we noticed with great pain that a group of unidentified persons violently stormed the residence of His Eminence Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa, chanting and making derogatory remarks against the Cardinal,” Fr. Georges Njila says August 1.

Fr. Njila adds, “We strongly condemn this irresponsible attitude as well as its consequences.”

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In what seems to be reactions linked to the divisions among members of the Forum of Religious Denominations in DRC over the naming of the head the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), a group of youthful Congolese are seen, in widely shared video recording on Facebook, accusing Cardinal Ambongo of delaying the electoral process in the Central African nation.

In his August 1 statement, the Chancellor of Kinshasa Archdiocese expresses gratitude to the National Police for their “prompt intervention in dispersing the protesters” who stormed the Cardinal’s residence.

The Congolese Priest adds, “We also thank all the faithful as well as people who love peace and justice for their moral support to the Cardinal-Archbishop of Kinshasa.”

Fr. Njila invites “all Catholics to remain extremely vigilant in order to prevent any degradation of the ecclesial heritage and to be careful not to let themselves be influenced by anyone.”

He further asks the people of God in DRC to “intensify prayers in these disturbing circumstances.” 

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“May the Virgin Mary continue to intercede for the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, the Catholic Church in DRC and our dear country, the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the Catholic Priest implores in his August 1 statement.

The religious leaders under their umbrella body of the Forum of Religious Denominations that is chaired by Cardinal Ambongo met last week but did not reach a consensus over the choice of the President of CENI.

“We did not reach a conclusion; the chairman of the meeting asked for time to continue the deliberations,” the spokesperson of the religious forum, Fr. Donatien Nshole who doubles as the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CENCO) was quoted as telling journalists July 27.

The faith-based leaders said they interviewed the shortlisted candidates, including Cyrille Ebotoko of the Catholic Church, Roger Bimwala of the Salvation Army, Denis Kadima of the Kimbanguist Church, and Daniel Kawata whom the Protestants endorsed.

On July 28, Pastor Dodo Kamba of the Church of Revival told journalists announced that the six religious entities had elected a new president of CENI, hinting to a “walk-out” on the part of CENCO and ECC that were not among the six.

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Last month, the Congolese Cardinal who chairs the Forum of Religious Denominations expressed his opposition to a bill that sought to limit presidential candidates to those who have two Congolese parents.

The bill that is dubbed “congolité” (Congolity) was introduced at the DRC’s National Assembly for examination on July 8.

In his homily at the installation of the Archbishop DRC’s Lubumbashi Archdiocese July 10, Cardinal Ambongo said the proposed law is “likely to divide the Congolese people.”

“This is an opportunity, in the name of the Bishops of Congo and our Congolese people, to condemn the dangerous draft law on ‘Congolity’ which does not promote the much-desired national cohesion,” the Congolese Cardinal said.

He added, “This proposed law, instead of uniting the people of God in a single family, appears to be an instrument of exclusion and division.”

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“I invite you all to remain extremely vigilant with regard to all these dangerous initiatives, which have as their only merit to create tension within the people,” Cardinal Ambongo cautioned.