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Catholic Politicians in DR Congo Condemn Attacks on Church Leaders, Appeal for Serenity

Members of the Caucus of Catholic Parliamentarians with Fridolin Cardinal Amobongo. Credit: Archdiocese of Kinshasa/Facebook

Catholic politicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have condemned the recent attacks targeting the Catholic Church and her leaders and have called for serenity in the Central African nation.

In a Wednesday, August 18 statement after a courtesy visit to Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, the members of the Caucus of Catholic Parliamentarians say they “followed with dismay the acts of barbarism that are rampant in the Diocese of Mbujimayi where objects were destroyed and places of worship desecrated.”

“We also followed with great concern acts of barbarism committed on Sunday 1 August 2021 in Kinshasa, where manipulated civilians virulently attacked the residence of His Eminence Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa,” the Catholic politicians say in the statement read out to journalists.

They expressed their condemnation for what they termed “shameful behaviors,” adding that “since ancient times, the princes of the Church have contributed to the emergence of our Nation.”

“No one can ignore the role played by Cardinal Malula in the emancipation of the Congolese elite in its struggle for independence or its commitment against the dictatorial ups and downs that our country has experienced since 1960,” they emphasize.

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The work of emancipation and the struggle against dictatorship, the Catholic politicians say in their statement, “was continued with and under the leadership of our Bishops by our Clergy and faithful, throughout the Republic, relayed yesterday by Cardinal Etsou and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo.”

“Today this work is carried by their successor, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo,” the Catholic parliamentarians say.

Earlier this month, members of Standing Committee of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said they received a letter from Bishop Emmanuel-Bernard Kasanda of Mbujimayi stating that "since April 2021, abominable acts of desecration in places of worship: parishes, Marian caves, altars, sanctuaries …  acts going so far as to desecrate our tabernacles where the Blessed Sacrament rests."

The Catholic politicians say, “The Church denounces the excesses of our society...while indicating the way to follow, in accordance with the prophetic role of the Church.”

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

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In a statement following the incident, the Chancellor of Kinshasa Archdiocese in DRC, Fr. Georges Njila condemned the August 1 incident saying, “We strongly condemn this irresponsible attitude as well as its consequences.”

Catholic Bishops in DRC also condemned the cases of desecration in the Diocese of Mbujimayi, and the storming of Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo’s residence

In their August 19 statement, Catholic politicians in DRC say, “It is regrettable to note that the Catholic Church suffers the desecration and destruction of these sacred places only because it has fulfilled this prophetic mission, its role, through its Pastors, with justice and equity.”

They call on the Police to “do their job by arresting all these perpetrators who have operated in the open.”

The Catholic politicians invite all Catholics “to remain calm, to protect the ecclesial heritage as well as the honor and dignity of our fathers in the Faith, while giving them our unfailing support in all respects.”

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“May the Blessed the Virgin Mary continue to intercede for the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, the Catholic Church in the DRC and for our entire country,” they implore in their August 19 statement.

On August 8, Cardinal Ambongo criticized the storming of his residence and thanked the Catholic faithful for standing with him in prayer.

Addressing himself to Catholic faithful during Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Congo Cathedral of DRC’s Kinshasa Archdiocese, 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.”