Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Judiciary investigates Cardinal Ambongo Besungu

Too critical of the government: the public prosecutor's office of the Democratic Republic of the Congo launched an investigation into the Archbishop of Kinshasa at the weekend. 

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu is in the crosshairs of the judiciary because of several statements in sermons and the media about the country's security and government, reports Radio France Internationale (RFI, online Sunday evening).

According to the report, Attorney General Firmin M'Vonde had already formally summoned the archbishop, who is close to Pope Francis, for 22 April, but the cardinal "declined the invitation". 

According to RFI, the archdiocese of Kinshasa stated that the summons had not reached either the diocese or the cardinal. A new summons and possibly the opening of criminal proceedings are now likely to follow.

According to the report, the priest is accused of making seditious statements. The public prosecutor's office is accusing him of "untruthful rumours, inciting the population to riot and attacks on human life". According to RFI, the general prosecutor warned the judge in charge: "Failure to act would be considered an act of complicity" and would be prosecuted.

Criticism at the Easter mass

Among other things, Ambongo Besungu had denounced poor governance and mismanagement of the financial and security crisis by President Felix Tshisekedi's cabinet during the Easter mass. RFI further quotes him as saying: "The judiciary is the first authority to disregard the rights of ordinary citizens - and here we are making speeches as if we are strong." He also stated: "The reality is that Congo has no army."

Ambongo Besungu (64) has headed the capital's diocese of Kinshasa since 2018. As the then vice-chairman of the Congolese Bishops' Conference, he was one of the fathers of the so-called New Year's Eve Agreement of 2016, which was intended to herald a peaceful transition of power in the country. 

In the same year, he testified before the International Court of Justice in The Hague about the activities of local warlords.

The Capuchin friar is the African representative on the so-called Council of Cardinals, an advisory body to Pope Francis. 

He is not a yes-man there either - as he recently expressed clear criticism of the church's blessing of same-sex couples, which was approved by the Pope

He also announced that he did not want to discuss the Catholic Church's treatment of homosexuals at the Synod on Synodality in the Vatican in October.