Cardinal Laurent Monswengo of Kinshasa on 4 January 2018.
(JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images)
Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the faithful of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after the passing of Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya.
Cardinal Monswengo died on Sunday in Versailles, aged 81, after a brief final illness that had brought him to Francis for treatment.
A biblical theologian and Archbishop emeritus of Kinshasa, Cardinal Monswengo had been a founding member of Pope Francis’s Council of Cardinals, on which he served until 2018.
Signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and addressed to the current Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besengu, the telegram praises the late Cardinal Monswengo as a pastor “attentive to the needs of the faithful, filled with courage and determination,” who “dedicated his life as a priest and bishop to the inculturation of the faith and to the preferential option for the poor.”
“In this way,” Pope Francis’s telegram continues, “he embodied the prophetic mission of the Church.”
“A man of justice, peace and unity,” Pope Francis writes, “[the late Cardinal Monswengo] has been deeply involved in integral human development in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Cardinal Monswengo was a careful, but outspoken leader who was not unwilling to confront civic and political leaders, and worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation in his long-suffering and sorely tried country, which has endured more than two decades of civil war that began in 1998 and quickly spilled into neighbouring countries.
More that five million people have perished as a result of the conflict, due mainly to disease and starvation.
Pope Francis remembers him as “a great and respected figure in the ecclesial, social and political life of the nation and was always committed to dialogue and reconciliation of his people,” whose “contribution has been significant for the progress of the country.”
“A faithful and close collaborator in recent years,” Pope Francis writes, “he has not ceased to make his contribution to the life of the universal Church.”