Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, 76, Congo's top Roman Catholic prelate, died on Saturday in Leuven, Belgium, according to the Scheut Fathers, (the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) a Brussels-based missionary order. He had been staying with the order in the Belgian capital when he was taken to the hospital two weeks ago with pneumonia. The prelate, who became archbishop of Kinshasa in 1990 and cardinal in 1991, raised concerns last year about Congo's first democratic elections in almost 50 years. He accused several officials with Joseph Kabila's transitional government of stealing from the state treasury and demanded their resignations. In a condolence message to Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mayi, Auxiliary of Kinshasa, and to Fr Jozef Lapauw, Superior General of the Scheut Missionaries, the Pope said he was "united in prayer with the archdiocese of Kinshasa, with the Bishops' Conference, with the members of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Cardinal's family and all who grieve." The Holy Father said: "I ask the Father of mercy to welcome into the light and peace of his Kingdom this Shepherd who dedicated his life to serving Christ and His Church " giving thanks for "the ministry of the eminent son of Africa who worked tirelessly to promote the announcement of the Gospel, the service and development of the peoples of the continent". In the letter to the Superior General of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of which Cardinal Etsou was a member, the Pope assured them of his spiritual closeness and prayers and he thanked God "for the ministry of Cardinal Etsou in the dioceses of Mbandaka-Bikoro and Kinshasa, and also for his fruitful pastoral activity at the service of your religious family in Congo and elsewhere in Africa". The Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples also sent a message of condolence to the archdiocese of Kinshasa and the whole Church in Congo assuring prayers for the repose of the soul of the Cardinal and recognising "his great human, spiritual and pastoral qualities and his service as a priest and a bishop". The message reads "a tireless shepherd and faithful servant, the Cardinal returns to the House of the Father having done his best. His leaves as his legacy his witness of love of God, the Church and his homeland". Source: FIDES
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