Crisis in East Congo forces Archbishop of Bukavu to leave Synod

Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo

Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo

The serious situation in South Kivu, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has led Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu to have to leave the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, to return to his Archdiocese.

The recent episodes of violence have led to the kidnapping of a priest and a seminarian, freed after the payment of a ransom. Archbishop Rusengo, in his final intervention in the Synod, affirmed: “While we are talking in this meeting, the pastoral workers in my archdiocese are being attacked by enemies of peace. One of our parishes was set on fire on 2 October, some of the priests were mistreated and others were taken hostage by uniformed men who demanded a large ransom, which we were forced to pay in order to save the lives of out priests that they threatened to massacre. With these activities, the Church has remained the only support for a people who are terrorized, humiliated, exploited and dominated, and that they would like to silence.”

Archbishop Rusengo's words confirm what Fides was told by local missionary sources, who highlighted that the Church is an uncomfortable witness for those who wish to exploit local resources, making the people flee their lands.

The Combonian missionaries, gathered in Rome for their 17th General Chapter, also sent a statement to Fides in which they express their “solidarity with the populations of North and South Kivu and the Eastern Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They said: “We once more denounce the tragic situation in which millions of Congolese are forced to pay a high price for the prolonged conflict that continues to claim innocent lives and has caused immense destruction in the long years of war.”

“Diplomacy has appeared powerless up until now. As missionaries for decades of years in areas of conflict and eyewitnesses of the violence that occurs, we know that the roots of this war are in the desire to exploit the nation's resources, while the parts involved manipulate interests of economic powers of the West and East. In these last few weeks, an epidemic of cholera has been seen in the areas of conflict, which has already claimed hundreds of victims. Because of the insecurity, healthcare workers have not been able to access the area affected by this calamity.”

“We, therefore, call upon the international community, that, in light of the international laws, they may respond to the desires of peace that reside in the people of Congo, who remain victims of war,” the Combonians concluded in their statement.

Source: Fides

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