AFRICA/DR CONGO - Update after the reactions sparked by a publication by Fides Agency on Cardinal Ambongo

Monday, 22 April 2024 armed groups   area crisis   local churches   colonialism  


Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The latest publication of our Agency on Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu (see Fides, 18/4/2024) has sparked strong and partly negative reactions. In certain cases, the Cardinal has been attributed with the intention of accusing the civil authorities of his Country by taking up "de facto" theses and arguments used against them by leaders of other nations currently in conflict with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In fact, the published journalistic summary did not highlight certain nuances mentioned during the interview. Inaccuracies (now corrected) had crept in during the transition from the original version of the interview (in Italian) to translations into other languages, leaving room for misinterpretations.
These inaccuracies in the wording used therefore lead us to emphasize that the Cardinal did not make the following remarks: "the government distributed additional weapons to various armed groups such as the Wazalendo and certain members of the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)". We therefore apologize to the Cardinal himself and to all those who may have been perplexed or embittered by the content and catchphrases used in the reactions to the article.

That said, an honest and correct reading of this publication must be based on positions often expressed by Cardinal Ambongo: 1) the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is caused by the predation of the riches of its soil and its subsoil by the international community as well as the expansionist desire of some of its neighbors including Rwanda; 2) this war benefits from the internal complicity of the Congolese; 3) insecurity tends to become widespread in DR Congo, in particular due to the proliferation of armed groups; 4) the solution to this crisis will not be military, but essentially involves dialogue between Congolese and with the international community, etc.

Thus in the article of 18/4/2024, as in several interviews and speeches of Cardinal Ambongo published by Fides, the Archbishop of Kinshasa has always described with realism and clarity the negative consequences suffered by his Country, also following initiatives and international initiatives and decisions that he considers to be forms of "neo-colonialism". It is enough to mention the exclusive interview that Cardinal Ambongo gave to Fides on March 21. In this interview, among other things, Cardinal Ambongo clearly denounced the agreement signed between the European Union and Rwanda "for the exploitation of raw materials and other resources which, in reality, are not found in Rwanda but in the DR Congo". This - underlined the Cardinal Archbishop of Kinshasa - "is intolerable and creates a lot of confusion in a region, that of the Great Lakes, which is already experiencing strong tensions".

The controversies aroused by the last article, however, represent for Fides an additional stimulus to document with passion and accuracy the mission of the local Churches for the peace and salvation of peoples, taking into account the different contexts in which they operate. (Agenzia Fides, 22/4/2024)