A bishop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has described the murder of a priest as “abominable, abhorrent and infernal”.
Bishop Théophile Kaboy of Goma condemned the murder of Fr Jean-Paul Kakule, who was shot dead on February 25.
The priest was closing the doors of Mweso parish church when he was killed by a hail of bullets from a machine gun.
Bishop Kaboy said: “The assassination of Fr Jean Paul Kakule is an abominable, abhorrent and infernal act that we strongly condemn.”
No one has taken responsibility for the death, but the bishop suspects that the murder of 33-year-old Fr Kakule was a revenge killing, motivated by the Church’s criticism of criminal groups.
Bishop Kaboy said: “The real motives for the murder are still unclear, however the presence of the Church in Mweso presents serious interference with the action of criminal groups who sow terror.”
The bishop said 10 priests and five Sisters have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1992.
According to the bishop, “Criminal gangs can go about their evil business unhindered because there is no police presence.”
He added that the uncontrolled circulation of firearms in the area is a source of insecurity for residents.
In its 2014 Religious Freedom in the World report, charity Aid to the Church in Need noted 20 different militarised groups operating in the east of the country.
According to the report three Assumptionist priests were abducted from their parish in Beni, North Kivu at the end of 2012.
It is thought the priests were seized by the ADF-NALU, an extremist Islamist rebel group, originally from Uganda.
Bishop Kaboy appealed to national and international authorities to ensure justice and peace in the region.
“While there have been notable advances in bringing peace to North Kivu, I see a general climate of concern about the successive assassinations and kidnappings for ransom,” he said.
Fr Kakule was ordained in 2003 and has since been working in Mweso parish.
In 2014 Aid to the Church in Need supported pastoral work in DR Congo with £2 million. This included church construction projects, transport to help clergy reach rural areas, subsistence aid for almost 250 Sisters, as well as helping with the training of more than 1,000 seminarians.