December 2, 2019

Catholic Church Declares “Day of Mourning” In 6 Dioceses of Eastern DR Congo

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Archbishop of Bukavu Monsignor François Xavier Maroy (C) with other Catholic Church bishops in Bukavu

The episcopal assembly of Bukavu, the Catholic Church’s bishops overseeing north and south Kivu have condemned the violence in both DR Congo provinces.

At the end of their conference in Bukavu, capital of South Kivu, which took place November 24-30, the Bishops issued a communiqué on Sunday condemning what they called “acute and terrifying violence” in Beni and other regions under their jurisdiction.

The episcopal assembly of Bukavu covers six dioceses Beni and Lubero terrotories of north Kivu, as well as Fizi, Mwenga, Uvira and Kalehe territories of South Kivu.

Currently, the Ugandan ADF rebels are killing Congolese on a daily basis in Beni. Government military operations have also caused increasing civilian casualties.

In the south, Uvira is where Banyamulenge villages have been emptied of people as they flee massacres that have also attracted social media hashtags including #SaveMulenge and #IamMulenge. However, due to no media coverage, there is no clear information as who is killing people.

In Fizi and Mwenga territories, groups allied to Rwanda and Burundi, as well as Burundian and Rwandan rebels are battling for supremacy in the region.

In Kalehe territory, like others regions, there are countless militias including Rwanda FLN and other local auto-defence groups, all killing at their will.

As all this cycle of conflict rages, the UN force MONUSCO and government forces FARDC are only beginning to deploy, especially in South Kivu.

The Catholic bishops in the communiqué deplore the persistence of insecurity, which is causing “dispeakable suffering” to their followers.

As result, the bishops have declared December 2, which is this Monday, as a ‘day of mourning’ in “communion and solidarity” with those suffering from the war and violence.

The episcopal directive will be observed in all its churches, schools, social centers, seminaries, universities – but the hospitals will be excluded.

The bishops want intervention of regional neighbors, national leaders and the international community to get involved to end the violence in this region.

“We deplore the persistence of the perverse insecurity that is causing untold suffering of our people; we express all our compassion for the victims of this inhuman violence; we ask the Christian faithful to take concrete steps of solidarity and fraternal communion for non-violence,” say the bishops in their communiqué signed by the Archbishop of Bukavu Monsignor François Xavier Maroy.

On October 9, in Bukavu, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi met with Monsignor Maroy for a private meeting (see photo below.

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