Catholic Bishops in DR Congo’s Kisangani Province Decry Violence, Urge “frank dialogue”

Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Kisangani. Credit: CENCO

The Catholic Bishops in the Kisangani Ecclesiastical Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have bemoaned heightened insecurity in their respective Episcopal Sees and call on parties in conflict to engage in “frank dialogue”. 

In their collective statement circulated Monday, March 14 following their latest Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Kisangani (ASSEPKIS), the Catholic Bishops urge relevant authorities in Ituri Province to address the “phenomenon of armed groups” and to work toward infrastructural improvement.

“We have witnessed a resurgence of violence and atrocities, as well as a strengthening of armed groups, in terms of equipment and personnel,” members of ASSEPKIS say.

They add, “Massive attacks with weapons of all kinds are carried out by members of local and foreign armed groups against defenseless communities. This often results in large-scale killings and massacres, as well as the destruction of private and public property.”

Worse still, the Catholic Church leaders say, “These attacks are even carried out against IDP camps, often not far from the positions of the forces of law and order that are supposed to protect them in a special way.”


“On the roads, too, there are frequent assaults and armed attacks on peaceful travelers, some of whom lose their lives and property. Very often the survivors of these atrocities are left with serious physical and psychological injuries,” they say in their collective statement obtained by ACI Africa.

Members of ASSEPKIS also deplore the “abduction of people by the assailants, who go so far as to demand ransoms and other benefits for the release of victims.”

Some people are “pulling the strings in a vast plot to benefit from the suffering of the dwellers of Ituri,” the Catholic Bishops say. 

“All this tragedy continues despite the state of emergency decreed by the state more than ten months ago,” they bemoan, and add, “Even MONUSCO, which has been present in the country for a long time to stabilize it, and the recent support from the Ugandan army did not improve the situation.”

In their collective statement dated March 10, the members of ASSEPKIS say the atrocities have “terrible individual and social consequences'' that cannot be ignored. 

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“The sanctity of life and human dignity are deeply violated. The people are forced to flee in all directions,” the Catholic Bishops in Kisangani Ecclesiastical Province lament.

They continue, “We are witnessing the forced and massive displacement of people from their usual living environments to places where living conditions are generally very precarious. These are sites of increasing numbers of displaced people and host families who are often already in difficulty.”

“Among the victims of this tragedy, many have lost basic social services, including food security, health care, decent housing and access to education,” members of ASSEPKIS say, and continue, “We note a resurgence in drug abuse, especially among young people and displaced children, as a way of drowning their misery.”

At the level of the Church, the Catholic Bishops say, “Pastoral services are deeply destabilized. This is due to the displacement of certain Priestly and religious communities, as well as lay pastoral agents, from their usual apostolic environments.”

Against this backdrop, ASSEPKIS members “strongly condemn the activities of the armed groups that continue to plunge innocent populations of Ituri into mourning.”


They also condemn all the “active and passive complicities, at international, national and local level, that produce and promote this tragedy for cynical interests.”

They Catholic Bishops express their “deepest sympathy to all the victims and people affected by this tragedy, which is being experienced on a daily basis in the communities of Ituri.”

As a way forward, ASSEPKIS members recommend that the Congolese government “urgently addresses the phenomenon of armed groups and assume its responsibilities as guarantor of the security of its people and urgently impose the peace to which the province of Ituri also aspires.”

They urge the various armed groups to “stop the atrocities which only destroy human lives and the conditions for a dignified existence of the human person.”

To all the accomplices in this crisis in Ituri, on the political, military, economic, intellectual and even religious level, both from outside and inside the country, the Catholic Bishops invite to “cease all maneuvers by which they sacrifice human life and dignity for their selfish and partisan interests.”

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They call on the people of Ituri in general and the youth in particular “not to give in to manipulation and hatred, but to seek to remain united and to resist all negative forces that are working to divide them.”

ASSEPKIS members also urge Catholics to “continue to witness to the Gospel despite the dramatic situation in which they find themselves at present."

“We urge all the warring parties to develop a frank dialogue for the cause of peace in Ituri,” the Catholic Bishops say, and implore, “May our journey towards Easter also be a journey towards the victory of love over hate”

“May God through the intercession of St Joseph, Protector of the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and our Blessed Anuarite and Bakanja, make fruitful all the efforts for peace, cohesion and fraternity in the whole Province of Ituri,” members of ASSEPKIS say in their March 10 collective statement that was circulated March 14.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.