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Attacks on Congolese churches are an ‘attempt to sabotage peace’, says cardinal

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (Getty)

The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being “deliberately targeted” with acts of violence, a cardinal has said.

Following a surge in violence against Catholics, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo of Kinshasa published a message on Sunday condemning two violent attacks on a parish and a major seminary.

In his message, the cardinal warned that the Church was being deliberately attacked “in order to sabotage her mission of peace and reconciliation.”

“Along with all bishops, we denounce these acts of violence, which are likely to plunge our country further into unspeakable chaos.”

On Saturday the seminary of Malole in Kananga was damaged by arson.

In the same week, St Dominic’s church in the Limete municipality of Kinshasa was vandalised and its tabernacle desecrated while a community of Carmelite nuns nearby were also attacked.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in a state of political crisis as the president, Joseph Kabila, has refused to step down from office although he has no mandate to govern.

The Church is a respected mediator in the country and previously brokered a constitutional agreement which means that presidents cannot serve a third term in power.

Cardinal Monsengwo called upon the political leaders of the country to resolve the political crisis, saying that history will judge them on their failure to act.

“We are asking each one of them to demonstrate wisdom, restraint and the spirit of democracy to resolve the issue regarding the designation of a prime minister,” he said.

Cardinal Monsengwo said this had to happen in order “to alleviate the current crisis that could threaten the elections that are meant to be held at the end of this year, in accordance with the St Sylvester agreement.

“Politicians ought to acknowledge with humility, before their nation and the international community, their political tendencies and the immorality of their self-serving decision.”

Cardinal Monsengwo warned that the situation was “leading to impasses and institutional deadlock and that “history will hold them accountable.”

Pamphlets have been distributed in the region inciting attacks against Catholic schools, churches and convents.