The Apostolic Nunciature in the Democratic Republic of Congo has published a first, yet provisional, report of the violence suffered by the Church following the brutal repression of the march of December 31, 2017, promoted by the Comité Laic de Coordination (CLC, Catholic laity organization) to ask President Josesph Kabila a declaration with which he declares publicly that he will not run for another term as president in compliance with the Constitution and with the New Year’s Eve agreements of 31 December 2016.
According to the technical note sent to Agenzia Fides, 134 parishes have been surrounded and isolated by the police; there are two parishes where access to the faithful and the celebration of Sunday Mass have been prevented; five parishes where the Mass was interrupted by the security forces; 18 those who saw their fenced area invaded by soldiers and policemen; another 10 parishes were hit by tear gas launched in their courtyard.
Five people have been killed so far, one of whom in the church of Saint Dominique, two in Sainte Famille parish and two others in that of Saint Alponse. Among the people arrested there are six priests plus a seminarian.
The note specifies that the data come from reliable ecclesiastical sources updated to January 3 and are still provisional.
Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo reacts
“The victims of December 31 died because they reminded us that pacta sunt servanda” said Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa during a mass celebrated in the cathedral of Notre Dame du Congo yesterday, 4 January 2018. On this day, in which the Democratic Republic of Congo commemorates the martyrs of independence, the Archdiocese of Kinshasa celebrated the priests ordained on 4 January 1993. It was therefore a celebration in which the congratulations for the anniversary of priesthood were joined by condolences for the victims of the brutal repression of the protest of December 31, promoted by lay Catholics to demand the full application of the Saint Sylvester Accords, signed on December 31, 2016, with the mediation of the Episcopal Conference. When Cardinal Monsengwo recalls that agreements are to be honored, he refers to the fact that the Saint Sylvester Accords were not respected because not only the presidential elections did not take place in 2017, but political prisoners are still imprisoned and opposition media is prohibited.
Several political figures including Felix Tshisekedi, Vital Kamerhe and Martin Fayulu, all rivals of President Joseph Kabila, were invited to the Eucharistic celebration.
On January 4, 1959, the Congolese challenged the Belgian colonizers to demand freedom. They paid with their blood, triggering the march towards independence on June 30, 1960. The commemoration of these martyrs was an opportunity for the Church of Kinshasa to remember the martyrs, especially the faithful Catholics who fell on December 31st, 2017. For the latter, a minute of silence was observed during the mass. This mass was therefore “an intercession to the eternal happiness of our compatriots who sacrificed their lives for their Country, at the expense of their blood. Let us also think of the deaths of the past December 31st”, concluded Cardinal Monsengwo.
Source: Agenzia Fides