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COLLISION COURSE WITH CATHOLICS: Tshisekedi Spits Salvo At Catholic Church Days After Bishops Were Attacked In Kasumbalesa

President Félix Tshisekedi on Sunday ignited a political fire picking a vicious fight with the Catholic Church accusing its leaders of siding with the opposition and warning them that they were on a “dangerous path” especially in an election year.

During the Jubilee Mass of Bishop Bernard Kasanda, Bishop of the diocese of Mbuji-Mayi at the Kashala Bonzola stadium in Kasaï Oriental, Tshisekedi said the Catholic Church was drifting from its mandate to unite the country.

He denounced the attitude of certain Catholic priests who, according to him, were risking dividing the Congolese a few months before elections.

“This may be an opportunity for me to sound the alarm about a certain drift observed within the Catholic Church. A drift that I would describe as dangerous especially in this election year, the church must be in the middle of the village. Here, I would be tempted to say the church must be in the midst of the Congolese, it must preach love, unity and equality, the church must accompany all the daughters and sons of the Republic who are in politics the same way without any distinction because it is about the stability of our dear country,” Tshisekedi said before an estimated 40,000 people that gathered in the stadium.

“And I know that you, Bishop Utembi, you, Bishop Kasanda, understand this in the most beautiful way. Unfortunately, among you there are a few people who have taken a dangerous trend that could divide our nation. As a guarantor of the unity of this nation, I feel obliged to say that I will never accept such a drift. I will continue because I believe in it to maintain the best relations with the church in general and the Catholic Church in particular,” he said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo will hold elections in December but the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) has described the process as lacking in transparency and credibility.

In a recent pastoral letter, the Bishops urged Congolese voters not to leave their polling stations in December until their votes are counted and announced so as to protect against rigging of the polls.

The Catholic Church has remained a critical voice in the administration of national affairs and played a key role in stopping Joseph Kabila from seeking an illegal third term.

Records of Tshisekedi praising the Catholic church have been shared online to contrast his current position when he is in power.



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