- Sep 21, 2020
Tensions between the Catholic Church in Congo and the government have mounted since a crackdown on a church-organized protest against President Joseph Kabila’s unwillingness to relinquish power left at least six people dead, and a senior Vatican cardinal said Thursday a visit there had to be postponed.
Catholic groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had called for peaceful demonstrations after Sunday Mass on Dec. 31, one year after the Catholic Church oversaw the signing of a 2016 accord that set a new election date to ease tensions in the central African country.
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.
An archbishop in Uganda says the government should help neighboring countries in their fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan militia accused of war crimes. The LRA was pushed out of Uganda a decade ago, but continues to cause havoc in Congo and the Central African Republic.
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.
Despite efforts by the Vatican to facilitate peace, a new report by Catholic officials shows that more than 3,300 people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s southern region due to the bloody conflict between the Congolese army and an opposing militia group.