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BUKAVU: Catholic Bishops Denounce Govt Failure To Take Responsibility Of War

In an uncompromising statement, the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) denounce their government’s failure to face the country’s present challenges.

At the end of their meeting, the bishops of six dioceses, including Bukavu, Butembo-Beni, Goma, Kasongo, Kindu and Uvira,– addressed a series of problems with the government. These dioceses are in North and South Kivu, which share a border with Rwanda and are rich in natural resources.

Unfortunately, the country’s government does not seem able to meet this challenge. The Congolese Church plays an important role in society, and in a statement sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the bishops were not afraid to denounce the government, , whose inaction has dramatic consequences for the faithful.

The security forces have proven incapable of containing the violence of the several armed groups that aim to control entire swathes of Congolese territory and are trying to provoke this region’s secession through the politics of terror.

Internally Displaced People and refugees

The cruelty of the armed groups’ actions and the suffering of the Church are clearly expressed in the bishops’ statement.

“Pastoral work is being disrupted by the activity of ADF-NALU and other armed groups, which are massacring peaceful citizens, even those who are close to the security forces that are supposed to protecting them,” the statement says.

The bishops express a general suspicion that some of the armed groups operating in the region are funded and controlled by neighboring countries.

Additionally, recent natural disasters, particularly the floods and mudslides of May 2023, caused the deaths of hundreds of people, largely due to the disrepair of infrastructure, according to the bishops.

“In light of the latest in an endless list of natural disasters, we remain convinced that if state services responsible for land and environmental management would carry their work out properly, human lives would certainly be spared, and such disasters could be avoided.”

Finally, the bishops also commented on the importance of the next presidential election in December, claiming that conditions that would ensure a democratic vote do not exist in the DRC.

“The material used to carry out this important activity has shown its limits: the quality of the voting cards produced, the insufficiency and quality of machines, the slowness of agents, the closure of enrolment before all the voters have been registered… None of this bodes well for the electoral process.”

Addressing international community, the bishops say that the DRC is a sovereign state and cannot be pillaged with impunity. The signatories denounce the companies that profit from the pillage of natural resources and conclude by echoing the appeal Pope Francis made during his visit in January and February of this year: “Take your hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo! Take your hands off Africa! It is not a mine to be exploited or a land to be plundered.”

—Thomas Oswald (Aid to the Need)



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