Four Issues of Concern Catholic Bishops in Congolese Province Want Addressed for Peace

Members of the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu (ASSEPB). Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have, at the end of their ordinary assembly, highlighted four challenges the people of God in their province are facing, which they want addressed for peace to reign.

In their collective statement issued Tuesday, May 30, the members of the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu (ASSEPB) highlight insecurity in their province, Challenges in the organization of December general elections, economic hardship, and solidarity with flood victims as issues they want addressed.

On insecurity in the Eastern part of DRC, the Catholic Bishops are concerned that “the situation of dramatic insecurity persists” in the Catholic Diocese of Butembo-Beni in North Kivu.

“In the Diocese of Goma, the same situation of insecurity is only worsening, despite the state of emergency in force since May 2021, and the forty or so extensions that have never proved their worth,” ASSEPB members say.

They add, “The same situation of insecurity is causing massive displacement of populations into makeshift camps. The result is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis: famine, disease, death.”


Amid these concerns, the Catholic Church leaders call on President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi to “do everything possible to liberate the territories occupied by the M23 rebels, and resolve the issue of foreign armies, in his capacity as guarantor of national unity and territorial integrity.”

Regarding the general elections scheduled for December 23, members of ASSEPB highlight gaps in the voter registration exercise, including the fact that “the equipment used to carry out this important activity showed its limits.”

They also lament “the quality of the voter cards produced, the inadequacy and quality of the machines, the slowness of the agents, (and) the closure of the enrolment before all the voters were registered.”

“All these do not augur well for a successful outcome of the electoral process, not to mention the fact that the voter enrolment operation did not take place in the territories of Rutshuru and part of Masisi under M23 occupation,” the Catholic Church leaders further lament.

As a way forward, ASSEPB members urge the government to “allow the free, inclusive and transparent electoral process underway in our country to run smoothly.”

More in Africa

“This presupposes the free expression of diverse opinions from all political players, whatever their tendency,” they add.

The Catholic Bishops in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bukavu also express their concerns about the economic hardship in the Central African nation, saying, “Misery has taken up residence everywhere in a country that is potentially very rich and vaunted abroad as a solution country, but with a truly miserable people.”

“Road infrastructures are dilapidated, impassable in many cases; this condemns our Provinces to isolation, insecurity, and impoverishment, to the point where even the chief towns of our Dioceses are no longer linked by road,” they lament.

They call upon relevant government officials to “remember that politics remains a service to the nation and above all to the people who have mandated them.”

“The interest and wellbeing of the people must come first,” the Catholic Bishops add.


Regarding solidarity with victims of deadly floods and landslides that resulted in the death of hundreds of people in the country’s South Kivu Province, the members of the ASSEPB “appreciate the swift action taken by the provincial government of South Kivu, the central government, humanitarian organizations and people of goodwill to alleviate the sufferings of those affected.”

“We remain convinced that if the government departments in charge of land and environmental management had done their job properly, human lives would surely have been spared and similar disasters avoided,” they say.

Members of the ASSEPB call upon the Congolese people not to give in “to any form of violence and division but remain united and live peacefully in order to thwart all attempts to balkanize our country.”

“The Congo is not for sale, it is one and indivisible, the common heritage of the Congolese people since its accession to national and international sovereignty,” the Catholic Bishops further say in their May 30 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.