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Congolese Cardinal Criticizes Attack on His Residence, Thanks Faithful for Solidarity

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo addressing himself to Catholic faithful during Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Congo Cathedral of DRC’s Kinshasa Archdiocese. Credit: Archdiocese of Kinshasa

The Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has criticized the recent storming of his residence and thanked the Catholic faithful for standing with him in prayer.

On August 1, a group of young Congolese reportedly stormed the Lindonge center in the town of Limete before accessing the residence of Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, chanting songs against the Cardinal and throwing stones at his residence.

Addressing the faithful Sunday, August 8, Cardinal Ambongo said, “People of bad faith had illustrated themselves by the disorder at the Lindonge center and at my residence.”

“You prayed for the cardinal about what happened last week. Today I wanted to thank you,” the Congolese Cardinal said, and continued, “You have shown that you have love for the Cardinal. You have shown that we are one family.”

Cardinal Ambongo further related the storming of his residence and what the Lord went through saying, “God's work is difficult work. Even Jesus Christ went through this.”

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The attack on the Cardinal’s residence seems to have been 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).

In widely shared video recording on Facebook, a group of youthful Congolese are seen accusing Cardinal Ambongo of delaying the electoral process in the Central African nation.

Addressing himself to Catholic faithful during Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Congo Cathedral of DRC’s Kinshasa Archdiocese, Cardinal Ambongo said he had forgiven the perpetrators of the “irresponsible act” of attacking his residence.

“We must pray for these people. May God forgive as Jesus said: They do not know what they are doing,” the Congolese Cardinal said.

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

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“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 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.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Catholic Bishops in the DRC condemned attacks targeting the Catholic Church and her leaders.

In a statement issued August 2, the members of the Standing Committee of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said the targeted attacks go against the principle of freedom of worship in the country.

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They called on perpetrators of violence against the Church to stop their violent actions and urged the government to take urgent action against those found guilty of engaging in violence.

The Catholic Bishops pledged to continue supporting the Congolese people in “consolidating democracy and improving their living conditions.”