Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The security situation in our country, especially in the eastern part, remains dangerous and worsened by the recurring presence of armed groups that the National Army, supported by MONUSCO (UN Mission in the DRC), is still not able to eradicate. The massacres of populations, the kidnappings and displacement of people, in North Kivu and Ituri, and recently the despicable assassination of the Italian Ambassador in the Democratic Republic of Congo with his bodyguard and driver sufficiently demonstrate this", affirm the Bishops who are members of the Standing Committee of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) in the message published at the end of their meeting held in Kinshasa from 22 to 25 February.
Remembering the victims of the ambush in which the Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, policeman, Vittorio Iacovacci and the Congolese driver Mustafa Milambo lost their lives, the Bishops offer their condolences to the Italian State , to the families and relatives of the illustrious deceased, and "we entrust their souls to the Lord for eternal rest".
"Driven by our pastoral concern towards our brothers and sisters wounded by recurrent atrocities in the eastern region of the country, we have sent a joint mission of listening and of comfort from the Association of Bishops' Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) and CENCO in the dioceses of Butembo-Beni in North Kivu and Bunia in Ituri" (see Fides 30/1/2021) recalls the message sent to Agenzia Fides. "We are deeply saddened by the information received and by the gap between the promises made and the reality on the ground experienced by the populations of these countries affected by armed groups. Based on this information, CENCO is preparing a communication and concrete support".
Among the other issues addressed by the Standing Committee is the Covid-19 pandemic. "Like all countries in the world, the DRC is suffering from the negative effects of Covid-19. While giving thanks to God for having spared us from the worst feared due to the precariousness of our health system, we are concerned about the denial of reality by most of our compatriots. This justifies the almost general relaxation of the observation of the barrier measures strongly recommended by the health authorities", denounce the Bishops who welcome the reopening of schools and universities from 22 February. Furthermore, "the Catholic Church, which ensures free education in 98.8% of its schools, remains available to collaborate with the Congolese State for a sound management of education and for the consolidation and sustainability of free basic education".
After stigmatizing the degradation of respect for fundamental human rights ("repression of human rights activists, attacks on civilians by armed groups or government forces, the obstruction of freedom of expression and demonstration"), the Bishops invite "the faithful Catholics and men of good will not to sink into discouragement and not to succumb to fatalism in the face of the many challenges of our country, but to turn to the Lord who comes to our aid in moments of tribulation". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/3/2021)