- Sep 21, 2020
Bishop Oscar Cantu, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Stephen Hilbert, the bishops’ foreign policy adviser for Africa and global development, visited the Democratic Republic of Congo Oct. 27-Nov. 3 and met with government officials, opposition and civil society leaders.
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations urged the bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to again get involved in ending a political deadlock in the country. She said that every day that passes without elections, a woman is raped, a child has an unwanted pregnancy, and children are forced to be soldiers.
Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, the papal nuncio to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, says there is a danger that if Pope Francis visits the country before elections are organized, politicians could use the visit to score political points. He also called the Congo a “predatory state” where politicians are more concerned about amassing wealth than taking care of the needs of the people.
Efforts by the Catholic Church – the most respected institution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – to broker a peace deal have floundered on the altar of mistrust and suspicion. With a proposed agreement disintegrating, the bishops are concerned that the DRC could descend into an all-out war.
Congo’s eastern Kasai and Kivu regions have seen increasing attacks on church personnel and property. One local bishop says the situation has been exacerbated by the arrival of 15,000 refugees from neighboring Burundi and he lamented the militia’s efforts to arm young people.
Catholic bishops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo criticized the lack of sincere political will during the latest round of negotiations to regain stability in the country. The bishops had enough after all parties were pulling back from a decision they had previously agreed on.