Catholic Bishops Condemn Military Invasion of DR Congo’s Lubumbashi Cathedral

Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral of Lubumbashi Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have condemned the military invasion of the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Catholic Archbishop’s residence in the country’s Lubumbashi Archdiocese.

On February 24, heavily armed soldiers reportedly stormed the residence of the Archbishop of Lubumbashi, Fulgence Muteba Mugalu, ransacking the Archbishop’s residence and the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

In a statement issued Friday, March 10, members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) say they are “following with great attention and indignation the sad events that occurred in the Archdiocese of Lubumbashi.”

They make reference to a March 6 memorandum of Archbishop Muteba to the authorities, saying, “The publication of the memorandum of His Excellency Monsignor Fulgence Muteba addressed to the public authorities and the Institutions of the Republic, enlightened both national and international opinion on the events of that day.”

“The gravity of the acts perpetrated by heavily armed men claiming to be members of the Republican Guard who unexpectedly invaded the Archbishop's residence and the Cathedral constitute a flagrant violation of the Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the DR Congo on matters of common interest, signed on 16 May 2020,” CENCO members say in their statement.


They add, “No plausible explanation, capable of reassuring the population, has been given by the authorities and public institutions that are supposed to be the guarantors of the safety of people and their property.”

“CENCO condemns without ambiguity this malicious behavior,” Catholic Church leaders in DRC say, and express their “affective and effective closeness” to the Local Ordinary of Lubumbashi Archdiocese.

CENCO members note that “the compassionate visit of His Excellency the Governor of Haut-Katanga to His Excellency the Archbishop, the messages and gestures of moral support and spiritual comfort expressed by the Presbyterium of Lubumbashi and the faithful, are sufficient proof that Catholics and so many other people of good will are in shock.”

In their 11-point statement, the Catholic Bishops in DRC say, “The absence of an investigation on the part of the public authorities shows indifference in the face of the danger that an Archbishop, responsible for a considerable portion of the population, is faced with.”

They lament that “these incongruous events occurred just three weeks after the apostolic visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the DR Congo.”

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“CENCO takes this opportunity to urge us, once again, to integrate into all areas of our lives the rich and relevant teachings given by Pope Francis during his visit to our country,” the Catholic Church leaders say in their March 10 statement.

They also call “for a serious investigation to elucidate the situation and to impose subsequent sanctions on those responsible.”

They reassure “national and international opinion that the interventions, declarations or messages of the Bishops are in no way motivated by a competitive race for any state power.”

“By virtue of the prophetic mission entrusted to them by Jesus Christ, the Bishops proclaim the rights of persons and it is right that they should always and everywhere be able to preach the faith with authentic freedom, to teach the Church's social doctrine, to carry out their mission among human beings without hindrance, to pass moral judgment even in matters that touch upon the political sphere, when the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls so require,” CENCO members explain. 

They urge politicians “not be afraid of the Catholic Church”, adding that “insults, intimidations, threats or any form of muzzling, directed against her and her Pastors, are counterproductive for their authors.”


“May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Congo, intercede for the Archdiocese of Lubumbashi and for our country, and obtain for us peace from the Lord,” Catholic Bishops in DRC implore in their March 10 statement.

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.