In the Sub-Saharan African country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Catholic church priests have been forced to flee for their lives after attackers have reportedly “ransacked, looted and set fire” to several Catholic church run buildings and establishments, International Business Times reported last week.
Christians have been facing high levels of persecution since the fall of a mediation plan between the opposition and national government forces earlier this year.
In late March, Catholic bishops were forced to abandon their government-opposition power-sharing settlement, according to Catholic news sources and within days of that news, violence erupted in the eastern part of the country, mostly impacting the Kasai province and its capital city of Luebo.
So far over 400 people have died due to the ongoing clashes between the opposition group Kamwina Nsapu’s militia and national security forces. The fighting is expected to get worst before it gets better due to ongoing tension between the President, local providence run militias and the rest of the country.
Abbot Charles Mukubayi, one of the leaders of the Caritas Diocese of the town of Luebo, told the United Nations radio station Okapi that, “(the assailants) attacked, plundered and burned the house of the bishop, the chancery [office of the secretary of the bishop], attacked and burnt the offices of the co-ordination of the Catholic schools, the novitiate where nuns are trained, they profaned the cathedral of Saint-Jean. They went down to Lunkelu, the [place] where priests are trained and they have ransacked everything.”
“I tell you that the abbots are up there in the bush. As soon as they leave (the bush), they want to kill them.”
In January of this year, Vatican Radio reported that the DRC based Bishops issued a warning to the rest of the world. Saying that, unless political agreement was signed by Jan. 28 all efforts to oust the 16-year serving President would be very difficult.
Last fall the first calls were made by national citizens for the current Congolese government to step down. Many were hopeful that change would be possible when Catholic bishops agreed to play a “pivotal role” in brokering a peaceful transition from one governmental body to another. But that reality and hope slowly faded and the call for President Joseph Kabila to step down and respect the the two-term limit under the national mandate in December of last year has been ignored.
Thanks to President Joseph Kabila for considering not to extend his mandate, we are tired of wars in DRC. Well done Catholic Church in DRC.
— Pius Maro Ruge (@Piopiuspio) December 31, 2016
Fresh problems are holding up efforts by the Catholic Church to unveil a deal for ending the political crisis in the DRC.
— SAfm news (@SAfmnews) December 31, 2016
Due to that, the growing destress between opposition forces and the national Congolese army has left many people in fear of their life especially Catholics within the war-torn nation, a religious population that makes up roughly 50 percent of the public.
But due to ongoing tension, strife and the collapse in the negotiation process between the presidential majority and the opposition for the power seat, Kabila has remained in power because a vote has not been held to replace him.
Months before this latest round of fighting in the country, protestors took to the streets in an effort to have the President removed from office under his own term limit. But that ended in bloodshed.
IBT reported last fall that over forty people were killed, 37 were demonstrators and six were police officers.
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