Catholic Bishops in Congo Brazzaville Call for Active Participation in Electoral Process

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo-Brazzaville (CEC). Credit: CEC

Catholic Bishops in the Republic of the Congo (Congo Brazzaville) have, in a collective statement, urged citizens in the Central African nation to “get involved” in the process of the planned legislative and local elections scheduled for July 10.

In the statement shared with ACI Africa Monday, June 6, members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo-Brazzaville (CEC) recall that “voting is not optional, but is a civic right and duty that must be exercised.”

“We, your Pastors, want to urge you to get involved in the upcoming electoral process, making sure that you have your name on the voters' list and that you get your voters' card in time, and that you know your polling station,” CEC members say.

They also call on the electorate to familiarize themselves “with the provisions of the electoral laws, so that you will be able to appreciate the voting process from the beginning to the end.”

To get involved in the upcoming elections, the Catholic Bishops say, the electorate “must also take an interest in the candidates who want to solicit your votes, by studying their programs, but also their biographies and their real and sincere capacity to keep their promises.”


“This way, you will be able to sort out the candidates who will soon come to solicit your votes. You will then contribute to objective and credible elections, free from the buying of consciences and manipulations,” the members of CEC say in their statement dated May 31.

On June 5, the government of Congo-Brazzaville announced two important dates in July for the planned elections. 

“The Council of Ministers has decided to convene the electorate for the first round of legislative elections and for local elections on July 4 for the vote of members of the public force, and on July 10 for the general vote,” government spokesman, Thierry Moungalla, has been quoted as saying.

Voters are expected to renew the national assembly where candidates will contest for a total of 151 seats.

In their collective statement following the May 17-31 extraordinary assembly, Catholic Bishops in Congo-Brazzaville recall that “generations of women and men have fought, sometimes at the cost of their lives, to obtain the right to vote freely, that is to say, to have a responsible impact on the attribution of political functions and indirectly on the access to high functions in their respective countries.”

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“It is not for us in conscience to neglect this individual and community right and duty, through indifference or through a use that would not be in conformity with either democracy or the moral demands of a Christian conscience,” they add.

In their 15-point statement shared with ACI Africa June 6, members of CEC address themselves to candidates vying for positions during the July polls, saying that “politics is a vocation to serve the common good”.

“To all our compatriots, men and women, who are preparing to enter the campaign to solicit the votes of the Congolese people to become their MPs, that is, their representatives in the National Assembly, we, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Congo, consider it our duty to remind you that politics is a vocation, a vocation to serve the common good for the benefit of the greatest possible number of people, on the basis of justice, truth, and equal opportunity for all,” CEC members say.

As the Popes have constantly recalled for several decades, the Catholic Bishops say, “politics carried out with fundamental respect for life, freedom and the dignity of persons, is the most eminent form of charity (Cf. Pope Francis, echoing Benedict XVI, in his Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, 8 December 2018).”

“To be able to do this, candidates need not only a good program, but also and above all a good heart, willing to serve others, with selflessness and abnegation. This means knowing the people you want to represent, their needs and their suffering, in order to be a true representative of the people,” CEC members add.


They call on political candidates to take the “electorate seriously and to respect them and above all not to sell off their inalienable right to decide for themselves, to whom they want to entrust their destiny.”

“It is therefore time for all of us to turn our backs on the harmful practices of buying consciences through direct or indirect corruption, influence peddling, intimidation and other forms of pressure. These practices do not honor our country and set back the cause of democracy,” Catholic Bishops in Congo-Brazzaville say.

Making reference to Pope Benedict XVI's Post-synodal Exhortation Africae Munus, CEC members say, “Elections constitute a place of expression of the political choice of a people and are a sign of legitimacy for the exercise of power.” 

Elections, they add, “are the privileged moment for a healthy and serene public political debate, characterized by respect for the different opinions and political groups.”

“Promoting the proper conduct of elections will give rise to and encourage a real and active participation of citizens in political and social life,” the Bishops further say. 

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Addressing themselves to members of the Clergy and women and men Religious, Catholic Bishop in the Central African nation say that “consecration to Christ is a commitment to the welfare of the people in justice, truth and peace.” 

They urge Priests to respect and offer Holy Mass in favor of peace and national unity, even if requested by a political party. As long as the intention is respected, the Bishops say, “remain constant in your impartiality and refrain from solicitations contrary to unity and peace.”

They also invite members of the Clergy and women and men Religious to “firmly reject political posters and banners within the walls of the parishes (including the outside walls), prohibit all political debates and meetings in parish spaces, including Catholic schools.”

“Do not allow candidates to speak during Eucharistic Celebrations and other prayers. Do not serve the interests of a political party. Receive, counsel and pray for all those in need in a neutral manner and only in the interest of the Congolese nation,” CEC members add.

They continue, addressing themselves to member of the Clergy and women and men Religious, “Remain open to men and women of good will who can contribute to a dynamic of development, peace and national unity.” 

“Keep in mind this recommendation of Christ the Master and Savior, refrain from any ambiguous words or words that could encourage the dispersion of the people of God,” Catholic Bishops in Congo-Brazzaville say.

They implore, “May the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom our dear country, the Congo, has been entrusted, obtain for us, from the Risen One, the lucidity of the choices we must make and the determination in their accomplishment for the greater glory of God and the good of the Congolese nation.”

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.