Sunday, February 26, 2017

Congo Catholics targeted by violence

Congo bishopsSeveral religious communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were subjected to violent attacks last weekend.

“The Catholic Church is being deliberately targeted, in order to destroy its mission of peace and reconciliation,” said Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo.

Cardinal Monsengwo is angry. 

In a message published on Sunday, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, capital of the DRC, said he strongly condemned the violent attacks on a parish and a major seminary.

“Along with all bishops, we denounce these acts of violence, which are likely to plunge our country further into unspeakable chaos.”

The Cardinal seldom expresses his opinions, which makes his statement all the more powerful.

The first attack, on Saturday, was the ransacking of the major Seminary of Malole of Kananga, in central Kasai, a province in the centre of the country.

“They systematically broke down the doors to different rooms and destroyed everything inside. They entered the teachers' rooms and burned their belongings," Fr Richard Kitenge, the Seminary Rector, told Agence France-Presse.

The men responsible for this violence belong to a militia operating in the name of a traditional chief, Kamwina Nsapu. The group uses many child-soldiers.

The second act of violence on the same weekend was the attack on a parish in Kinshasa by about a dozen men. 

Before Mass, the furniture of Saint Dominic's Church was broken, the altar was vandalised and the tabernacle desecrated. A community of nuns not far from the parish was also attacked.

"The police arrived too late ... We are all in shock," said Fr Julien Wato, the Dominican priest of the Kinshasa church.

Although he said he was not afraid for his own safety, he spoke about the tense mood in the Congolese capital.

"In the street, it's not unusual to hear threats against the Church."