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“Humanly, left to ourselves, we are incapable of doing a divine work”: DR Congo Prelate

Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, President of CENCO.

At the meeting bringing together Bishops at the helm of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO), closeness to God in prayer was emphasized including the need to be role models in the carrying on the ministry of the apostles of Jesus.

“On this day when we begin our meeting of the Standing Committee to reflect on the pastoral orientations of our Church in DR Congo, we cannot but turn to the Lord,” said CENCO President, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa, during the February 24 opening Mass at the Caritas Congo ASBL centre in the country’s capital, Kinshasa.

“Humanly, left to ourselves, we are incapable of doing a divine work, our power comes from God and it is in prayer and faith that it finds its source,” Archbishop Tapa who is the Local Ordinary of Kisangani Archdiocese said.

The Congolese Prelate encouraged his brother Bishops to foster their servant leadership role in the face of the challenges in their country saying, “In the sad conditions of life of our people, we are called to play our role as apostles. All are looking at us.”

Drawing inspiration from the word of God for the day, the 61-year-old Church leader said, “The story we have just heard is an invitation not to be discouraged in the face of the difficulties we may encounter in our prophetic mission, but rather to strengthen our faith and that of our people.”

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DR Congo has faced challenges that include politically instigated violence, extreme poverty and the Ebola epidemic, among others.  

In 2015, violence broke out in DR Congo after the announcement of a proposed law that would allow the then President Joseph Kabila to remain in power though his term was coming to an end in 2016.

With the intervention of the Church in the country, on December 31, 2016, the Saint Sylvester agreement which enabled President Kabila to stay in power until 2017 when elections would be  organised was reached, bringing peace to the country.

However, the peace was short-lived as fresh protests broke out in the second largest African country after President Kabila went against the Agreement by choosing to stick to power at the expiry of the Agreement’s deadline.

After interventions from both international and local organizations, including the Church, elections were held in December 2018 and a new President took over in 2019.

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DR Congo is also grappling with the world’s “second largest Ebola epidemic on record,” the World Health Organization (WHO) explained in their Health Emergency Update, February 18.

According to WHO, “more than 2200 lives have been lost and 3300 infections confirmed since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018.” 

In view of such challenges, the President of CENCO encouraged his brother Bishops to be steadfast in their ministry among the “people entrusted to our pastoral care and who expect from us words of life and gestures of the reign of God.”

The largely Catholic nation with vast natural resources, which has the “potential to become one of the richest economies on the continent and a driver of African growth” is also viewed as one of the extremely poor nations in Africa, according to the World Bank .

Archbishop Tapa asked for the “the intercession of the Virgin Mary” in their deliberations and that the Good Lord may “fill us with the strength of His Spirit and may all our actions find their source and their completion in Him.” 

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