Category Archives: Peace

DRC tense as police clash with anti-Kabila protesters

Police and demonstrators battle in Kinshasa as talks between President Kabila’s government and opposition fall apart

Kabila’s mandate ran out in December, sparking violent protests at the end of last year [Reuters]

Congolese police fired rounds into the air and launched tear gas canisters to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters in Kinshasa on Tuesday after talks between the opposition and President Joseph Kabila‘s government fizzled out.

Unrest broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s capital after Catholic bishops withdrew from their role as mediators between the government and opposition in talks aimed at paving the way for delayed elections later this year.

Demonstrators, some burning tyres at city crossroads, took to the streets in several areas in Kinshasa.

A Reuters news agency witness saw opposition members gathering at the home of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, the main opposition party’s former leader, during a news conference with his son, the new Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) party leader, Felix Tshisekedi.

Many shops remained closed and some schools called parents to collect their children

Kabila’s mandate ran out in December but polls were not held because of what the government said were budgetary constraints, sparking violent protests at the end of last year in which security forces killed at least 40 people.

DRC’s conference of Catholic bishops (CENCO) helped negotiate a December 31 deal aimed at avoiding a political crisis by ensuring an election this year to elect Kabila’s successor.

In January, the bishops warned the deal was at risk of unravelling if politicians did not act quickly to reach compromises and implement it.

The bishops stepped aside on Tuesday after progress on the deal stalled, raising the prospect of renewed violence in a country that has suffered a succession of wars and rebellions.

“We think that there’s no longer anything to do,” Donatien Nshole, secretary-general of CENCO, told Reuters. “We have given all our time and all our energy, and in the meantime, pastoral work suffers.”

Kabila has ruled the mineral-rich central African nation since his father’s assassination in 2001. His critics accuse him of deliberately delaying elections in order to remain in power.

Catholic priests, religious face wave of violence in DR Congo

congo-crowds-fleeing
The Congolese Bishop’s Conference has helped to broker a peace deal that could arrange for the peaceful transition to power

Nearly half of the Congo’s 67.5 million people are Catholic. Previously, nearly 6 million people died in the 1996-2003 conflict over the nation’s transfer of power.Following recent attempts at brokering peace between the government and political opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Catholic priests and religious are facing violent backlash around the country.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic aid society that works in the country, Catholics have experienced a slew attacks on churches and convents. In particular, a Carmelite Convent and a Dominican Church were both ransacked in late February.

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, told the organization that the incidents “lead one to believe that the Catholic Church is being targeted deliberately, in order to sabotage her mission of peace and reconciliation.”

 “Along with all bishops, we denounce these acts of violence, which are likely to plunge our country further into unspeakable chaos,” he said.
The attacks follow recent attempts by the Catholic Church in the DRC to mediate between talks between the government of  President Joseph Kabila and the opposition. The opposition to President Kabila and claims of a constitutional crisis follow after his refusal to step down from office at the end of 2016.

However, after delays for the funeral of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and other conflicts, the peace agreement has all but dissolved, according to some reports. Presidential elections are now expected to take place at the end of 2017.

“Politicians ought to acknowledge with humility, before their nation and the international community, their political tendencies and the immorality of their self-serving decisions,” Cardinal Monswengwo said in a statement about the elections.

The attacks have continued into March. According to Crux, 25 Catholic Seminarians in Malole in the south of the country had to be evacuated by UN peace-keeping forces by helicopter after armed troops attacked the seminary. The attackers were part of a militia loyal to former tribal leader Kamwina Nsapu, who died in August 2016.

 For the Catholics, the violence has been terrifying.

“They systematically broke down the doors to different rooms and destroyed everything inside. They entered the teachers’ rooms and burned their belongings,” Father Richard Kitenge, rector of the seminary, told Agence France-Presse.

Recently, the Church has also lead anti-corruption initiatives in the province and local area. The animosity towards the Church also extends outside of the church or convent walls.

“In the street, it’s not unusual to hear threats against the Church,” Father Julien Wato, the Dominican priest of Saint Dominic’s Church, the Kinshasa church vandalized in February said in a statement after the event.

Nearly half of the Congo’s 67.5 million people are Catholic. Previously, nearly 6 million people died in the 1996-2003 conflict over the nation’s transfer of power.

Continue reading Catholic priests, religious face wave of violence in DR Congo

REFLECTION: Vatican conference urges church to abandon “just war” theory

Pax Christi USA

Tony Magliano

peace-4-16On the night before his execution, Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27).

Facing a horrible violent death, Jesus taught the first leaders of his church to respond to violence with peace. The peace of Jesus – the only real and lasting peace – unlike the false “peace” of the world which violently conquers enemies, would be based on total nonviolence.

But after 300 years of countless Christians striving to follow the nonviolent Jesus – often suffering severe persecution – the faith of the followers of Christ was legalized and later made the official religion of the Roman Empire. Christians then began fighting for the empire. And sadly, Christians have been fighting for empires ever since. Continue reading REFLECTION: Vatican conference urges church to abandon “just war” theory

LCWR Update Newsletter
Join Us In Prayer
image001.jpgThe Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International will convene an international conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence, to be held in Rome, Italy, 11-13 April, 2016. Please join us in prayer for the success of the convening!

In recognition of the Year of Mercy declared by the Holy Father, this carefully planned Catholic conference on nonviolence and just peace will take place in Rome — the invited participants represent a broad spectrum of Church experiences in peace-building and creative nonviolence in the face of violence and war. Read the concept note for the conference here. Continue reading

Archbishop finds visiting children injured in bombing ‘truly difficult’

Catholic News Service

By Simon Caldwell

PAKISTAN SHAW CHILDREN

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, said he was grief stricken while visiting hospitalized child victims of an Easter bomb attack in a city park.

Speaking with the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need March 29, the archbishop said that seeing severely injured children, some as young as 4, was “truly difficult.”

The children were among 340 people injured by a suicide bomber. At least 72 people died, including 29 children, in the March 27 attack in which a splinter group of the Taliban specifically targeted Christian families celebrating Easter, authorities said. Continue reading Archbishop finds visiting children injured in bombing ‘truly difficult’

The Brussels Attacks

The New Internationalist

We are going to need more than demonstrations, we are going to have to do more than putting the Belgian flag as a profile picture on Facebook, we are going to need more that GIFs, tweets and petitions. What we need is a total, radical and deep rethinking of the way we see society, of how we see each other within it, of who makes decisions on our behalf. In short, a spiritual and philosophical revolution is what it required.

By Frank Barat

belgium

Frank Barat reflects on Tuesday’s attacks on his city, and argues that only more understanding can defeat terrorism and its root causes.

The second day of Spring in my hometown, Brussels, started like any other day. I took the kids to school and nursery this morning, then went to work. Or, rather, came back home, where most of my work is done these days. For two years, I’d been working at offices near the European Parliament, but I prefer working from home now, especially in days like today: The sky is blue and the sun is shining. Sitting in front of my computer, I looked outside at the trees, listening to the singing birds. Continue reading The Brussels Attacks

President Obama Takes Action to Reduce Gun Violence

LCWR Update

Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country. Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence — and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. Over the same period, hundreds of thousands of others in communities around the country committed suicide with a gun and nearly half a million people suffered other gun injuries. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been shot to death protecting their communities. And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident. The vast majority of Americans, including the vast majority of gun owners, believe it is time to take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies.

President Obama has said that he is committed to using every tool at his disposal to reduce gun violence. While some of the gaps in gun laws can only be fixed through legislation, in early January the President announced a series of executive actions designed to:

• Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.
• Make communities safer from gun violence.
• Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.
• Shape the future of gun safety technology.

The presidential announcement was welcomed by many in the faith community including LCWR which adopted a resolution at its 2013 assembly calling for an end to gun violence. lcwr.org/social-justice/ending-gun-violence

Additional information about the executive action is available from the White House at: tinyurl.com/gqzya7n