DR CONGO: Bishops Strongly Condemn Religious Attack in Lodja

KINSHASA, OCTOBER, 17, 2014 (CISA) – Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (CENCO) has condemned the attack on two catholic priests.

“It is unacceptable to blame the church personnel who, faithful to the hierarchy, exercise their pastoral ministry,” said a statement from CENCO.

The two priests were attacked on Sunday October 12 in Lodja, 750 km north of Mbuji-Mayi capital of Kasai oriental, the same day a convent was damaged.

The attack came after the priests reportedly read a Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference during Sunday Mass which criticized the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow incumbent President, Joseph Kabila, to vie for election for a third term, Fides reported.
In September, the bishops released a pastoral letter opposing a constitutional amendment that would allow the new presidential term. They cited a provision of the constitution that explicitly prohibits amendments to change the two-term limit. The bishops’ stand drew angry criticism from Kabila’s supporters.

In the message published on 14 October, the Bishops said that the pastoral letter “sparked a lively debate”.

Catholic priests and religious in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been threatened with violence since the country’s bishops opposed bid to allow President Kabila to serve a 3rd term.

The Bishops have organized three days of prayer, from October 17 to 19, all over the Country, “so that God may enlighten the future of the nation.”

President Kabila supporters have formed a group of “young Catholics” to petition the Vatican, calling for an end to the “interference of the Congolese bishops in national politics” but the bishops’ conference said the group’s leaders are not affiliated with existing Catholic organizations.