Bishops in eastern Congo urge more protection for victims of violence

Men push their bicycle past U.N. peacekeepers in Kiwanja, Congo, Oct. 19, 2018. Catholic bishops in eastern Congo urged better government protection for local communities, which staged a strike for victims of recent violence. (CNS photo/Oleksandr Klymenko, Reuters)

BUKAVU, Congo (CNS) -- Catholic bishops in eastern Congo urged better government protection for local communities, which staged a day of strikes for victims of recent violence.

"We deplore the perverse, persisting insecurity that causes such immeasurable suffering to our populations, and we ask the Christian faithful to make concrete nonviolent gestures of solidarity and fraternal communion," said bishops from eastern Congo.

Advertisement

"We also urge the national, regional and international authorities to be more active in safeguarding our peace, national unity and territorial integrity."

The declaration, signed by Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu, was issued as church-owned schools, hospitals and social services shut down Dec. 2 in a "day of mourning, prayer and communion" with those caught up in attacks by armed groups.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

It said bishops from six eastern dioceses had debated the "violence raging ever more acutely and terrifyingly" in North and South Kivu provinces. The statement said the bishops backed the strikes out of "compassion for all victims of this inhuman violence."

The Catholic Church's six archdioceses and 41 dioceses include two-thirds of Congo's 67.5 million inhabitants.

The church has been deeply involved in efforts to secure peace in the mineral-rich country, where 4.5 million people are currently displaced and a fifth of the population needs basic assistance, according to the United Nations. Up to 6 million people have died in conflicts since 1995, mainly over control of natural resources.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

The secretary-general of the provincial bishops' assembly, Msgr. Jean-Marie Vianney Kitumaini, told Radio France International Dec. 2 the bishops believed "much more effective engagement" was needed by the Congolese government and international community. He said politicians were preoccupied with "seeking their own advantages. Although elections have taken place in the Congo, we don't sense any firm commitment to resolve issues afflicting these provinces."

In a Nov. 26 message, the Congolese bishops' conference said 80 people were killed that month, "and it should be emphasized these massacres are sometimes committed near Congolese army installations and police and military patrols."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

Advertisement
More: Bishops / Africa

The latest from america

The Diocese of Richmond has responded to the call to care for our common home with a project that will soon generate 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of solar electricity every year.
Erika RasmussenSeptember 24, 2020
Speculation that President Trump will name Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has revived interest in her charismatic Catholic group. Michael O’Loughlin looks at the history—and the myths—of People of Praise.
Michael J. O’LoughlinSeptember 24, 2020
After months of Zoom liturgies, I am beginning to think people-watching at Mass can itself be an opportunity for deeper communion.
Colleen ConnollySeptember 24, 2020
To realize Ginsburg’s vision for authentic equality between men and women, we will have to point our children to those who recognize the unborn life not as a hindrance but as the reason for greater solidarity with one another.
Erika BachiochiSeptember 24, 2020