DR Congo: The Catholic Church For The Poor And With The Poor

The Christians of Congo are writing a new page in the history of African Christianity. They refuse to be an accomplice of politics breaking the silence. A Christianity that claims to be prophetic, while remaining for the poor and with the poor.

“The Christians of the Democratic Republic of Congo, led by the Congolese Episcopate, will continue to surprise the world, and Africa in particular, for their explicit and frank political commitment. Never in the history of our African Churches have Christians been so determined to say prophetically “No” to politics for its mortal selfishness,” said Fr. Donald Zagore, Society for African Missions (SMA), Ivorian writer and theologian reflecting on the recent political crises and the commitment of the catholic church in Congo.

Under President Kabila, who has held office since 2001, Congolese bishops have spoken out against the government’s human rights violations and the president’s plan to remove term limits that barred him from re-election. They helped mediate an agreement between the country’s ruling political coalition and opposition leaders, culminating in a December 31st 2016 agreement.

The agreement allowed Kabila to remain in office beyond his mandate but he must step down after an election to be held this year. However, the country’s electoral commission then said an election could not be organised until December 2018. Many of the president’s opponents believe that Kabila has no intention of leaving his position of power, despite the calls for his resignation.

Political tensions have risen as Kabila continues to postpone elections. Dozens have died during protests against Kabila. Father Donald observes “the Christians of Congo are writing a new page in the history of African Christianity. A Christianity that now refuses to be locked up in the sacristy; that refuses to be an accomplice of politics breaking the silence so that death is not the last word; that embraces martyrdom in defence of justice and truth; a Christianity that claims to be prophetic while remaining for the poor and with the poor, the only flame that still shines in the depths of darkness; a Christianity that renounces its comfort, which accepts to get its hands dirty”.

“Fighting for freedom, truth and justice is now an act of salvation as well as a fundamental vocation of every man and every Christian in particular. It is time for our ecclesial communities to make themselves heard, guided by Pastors who are prophets, who do not fear defiling the whiteness of their tunics with the blood of the struggle for an Africa where life is preferred to death, love to hatred, peace to war”, continues Fr. Donald.

Meanwhile a Catholic cardinal in the Democratic Republic of Congo has strongly condemned security forces’ attacks on protesters amid deadly political tensions in the country.

“We can only denounce, condemn and stigmatise the actions of the supposedly valiant men in uniform, which are, unfortunately, nothing more, nothing less than barbarism”, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya said. “How can we trust leaders incapable of protecting the population, of guaranteeing peace, justice and love of people?” the cardinal asked.

He accused security forces of opening fire on peaceful protesters and desecrating places of worship. About 40 percent of the Congolese population identifies as Catholic, and Catholic institutions play a large role in education, healthcare and other services.

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