Archbishop in DR Congo Faults President, Underscores Neutrality of Catholic Church

Members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) with President Félix Tshisekedi. Credit: Presidency of the Republic of DRC

Archbishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu of Lubumbashi Archdiocese in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has faulted the President of the Central African nation for describing the Catholic Church as partisan and divisive. 

In an interview with Jeune Afrique reported Wednesday, June 28, Archbishop Muteba clarifies the role of the Church in DRC following President Félix Tshisekedi’s June 25 claim that there is “a certain drift within the Catholic Church…A drift that I would describe as dangerous, especially in this election year.” 

President Tshisekedi, who was speaking during the Silver Jubilee of Bishop Bernard-Emmanuel Kasanda of DRC’s Mbujimayi Diocese also said, “The Church must be in the middle of the village, in the middle of the Congolese people. But unfortunately, some of you have taken a dangerous turn that could divide our nation. I feel obliged to say that I will never accept such a drift.”

In the June 28 interview report, Archbishop Muteba said that Catholic Bishops in DRC are “neither a partner of the opposition nor an enemy of the regime.”

“The Congolese Bishops are not the opponents of those in power. The true enemies of this regime are corruption, bad governance, poverty, the high cost of living, the weakness of the national economy, the population's difficult access to education and healthcare and, it has to be said, a certain amateurism in the management of public affairs,” he said.


The Congolese Archbishop continued, “The Church isn't siding with anyone. All it does is defend the common good, evangelical values, justice, the law, democratic principles, and above all, the inalienable dignity of the human person.”

He added that as members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), “We don't play politics, but we are committed to the ethics of politics for the good of our country and its most vulnerable inhabitants.”

Archbishop Muteba said that CENCO members make proposals “but do not impose, even if the moral authority it enjoys justifies listening to and respecting them.”

On June 22, Catholic Bishops in DRC called on the country’s electorate to prioritize the “competence and moral integrity” of political candidates they are to elect during the December general elections.

CENCO members also denounced persistent violence in the Eastern part of the country and the emergence of new groups of militia.  

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Earlier, on June 11, Archbishop Muteba decried the lavish lifestyle of a section of politicians in the Central African nation amid the misery of ordinary people.

In the interview with Jeune Afrique reported June 28, Archbishop Muteba reflected on the General elections in DRC scheduled for December 20.

He said, “There's the refusal to carry out a real audit of the electoral register, the lack of consultation between the parties involved in the electoral process, the lack of consensus on the voters' lists and the mapping of polling stations, the refusal to deploy our observers and the candidates' witnesses.”

The 60-year-old Catholic Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in July 2005 as Bishop of DRC’s Kilwa-Kasenga Diocese added, “If the authorities continue to turn a deaf ear and persist in forcing the issue, we will feel obliged to make a solemn statement on the credibility of the current process.”

The Congolese Catholic Archbishop called upon the President of DRC to “play a frank and sincere democratic game, respecting the fundamental principles of the rule of law, and organize free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections.”


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.