Catholic Bishops in Burundi, DRC, Rwanda “deeply concerned” about Violence, Urge Dialogue

Members of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) during their plenary assembly in Kinshasa. Credit: CENCO

Catholic Bishops in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda have, in a collective statement, expressed concern about violence in the African Great Lakes region of Central-Eastern Africa and urged parties in conflict to dialogue.

In their statement issued at the end of their July 7-9 Plenary Assembly in Kinshasa, DRC, members of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) that brings together those at the helm of Dioceses in the three African countries appeal for respect of human life and call for an end to violence and bloodshed in their region.

“We are deeply concerned about the deterioration of the security situation at the borders of our three countries, and more particularly in the North-Eastern part of the DR Congo, with dramatic consequences: insecurity, loss of life, massive displacements of populations, outbursts of violence, destruction of infrastructures, incitement to hatred,” the Catholic Bishops say.

ACEAC members regret the fact “too much blood has been spilled in our sub-region in recent decades, even to the point of genocide, the fruit of the sin of greed and selfishness.”

“The Great Lakes sub-region cannot remain indefinitely the standard of murderous acts or the atypical land of a reversed scale of values,” they bemoan, and add, “The victims are counted in their millions; women and children generally pay a heavy price.”


“We share the pain of the families who have lost loved ones as a result of various torments of subjection to evil and we reassure them of our compassion,” ACEAC members say in their collective statement dated July 9, adding, “In the same spirit, we comfort all hearts afflicted by human wickedness, whatever its form or cause.”

They call upon Christian communities, the social structures of the Church, and men and women of goodwill “to show solidarity with all those in need”.

As a way forward, ACEAC members “invite the populations of our sub-region to disassociate themselves from any movement of riot, often inspired by envy and hatred, as well as from any gesture of appreciation for exclusion and the spiral of violence.”

“We call on the supporters of armed movements and their political, social, economic or religious constituents to find other ways of resolving their conflicts rather than resorting to arms, war and the massacre of the innocent,” they say.

The Catholic Church leaders further recommend that “political decision-makers combine their efforts and energies for the construction of a harmonious living together in the heart of Africa, and promote the discourse of peace, harmony, unity and brotherhood.”

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“We call upon religious leaders and all believers to become peacemakers as privileged heralds of the Gospel of love and reconciliation,” they say.

In their July 9 collective statement, the Catholic Bishops also express their spiritual closeness with the Holy Father, saying, “We remain in communion with the Successor of Peter in the person of Pope Francis whose visit to the sub-region has been postponed for health reasons.”

“It is with serene hope, patience in the trial and assiduity in prayer that we keep a prayerful thought for his prompt recovery and the effectiveness of his visit in the coming months,” ACEAC members say in their message titled, “Thou shalt not kill (Mt 5, 21), Be your brother's keeper (Cf. Gn 4, 9)”.

The Catholic Church leaders further commit themselves “to continue, through our mission as pastors, to contribute to the construction of peace in our countries and in the Great Lakes sub-region.”

They invite all Catholics “to organize a Eucharistic celebration for peace on Sunday, July 31, on the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola.”


“May the God of Goodness help us to combine our efforts for the creation of a sub-regional brotherhood around peace and development,” ACEAC members implore in their July 9 message.

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.