The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been visiting Anglican and Catholic Churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a three day visit to the country.
His visit is a show of support for the “Peace in the Great Lakes Initiative”, which is being assisted by CAFOD and its Congolese church partners. The initiative brings together Catholic and Anglican bishops from Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo with the aim of working with communities from the three countries to press for peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region.
Archbishop Welby said: “I am delighted to be visiting Goma with my wife Caroline to show the love and solidarity of the wider Church amidst all you have been through. We pray for stability and a lasting peace for DRC.”
The Catholic Vicar General of Goma, Monseigneur Louis Nzabanita, welcomed Archbishop Welby, saying that his visit sent an important message of commitment to work towards peace.
“It’s the first time that the Archbishop of Canterbury has visited our region and with our ongoing peace initiative, it has become clear that both the Anglican and the Catholic Churches have a vital role to play in spreading the message of protection for civilians and working towards a more sustainable peace process. Together we must be the instruments of change.”
Eastern DR Congo is a region that has been plagued by the presence of militia groups, which have terrorised communities by looting, rape, and the forced recruitment of children into their ranks.
However, there is renewed optimism for peace in the region after rebel group M23 announced at the end of last year its intention to abandon its rebellion.
Bernard Balibuno, CAFOD’s Country Representative in DR Congo, said: “The work of CAFOD’s church partners has been crucial in the area of delivering humanitarian aid, and working with communities on longer term development and peace building.
“The Church is at the heart of the daily lives of communities, and the visit of Archbishop Welby offers renewed hope that in solidarity with the Anglican Church we can end the fear and suffering that hundreds of thousands of Congolese people have endured for so long.”