Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catholic Bishops of Congo Issue Plea


The Permanent Commission of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo issued a "cry of grief and protest," saying that they are "disturbed and overcome by the human tragedy in the east and northeast Democratic Republic of Congo."

In a statement sent to Fides news agency, the members of the Permanent Committee of CENCO affirmed that in the eastern part of the country, they are witnessing a "a silent genocide."

"The great massacres of the population, the planned extermination of the youth, the systematic robberies, used as a weapon of war...a cruelty and exceptional violence is once again being unleashed upon the local people who only ask that they can live in a decent manner in their homeland. Who is willing to take interest in this situation?"

The bishops criticised the UN peacekeeping force, MONUC, saying that "the most deplorable fact is that the violence is taking place right before the eyes of those whose duty it is to maintain peace and protect the civilian population."

They also questioned the government, noting that "our governors appear impotent before the gravity of the situation, and give the impression that they are not prepared to respond to the challenges of peace, nor to the defence of the population and the integrity of national territory."

The natural resources of the DRC are fomenting the greed of several powers at large, the bishops said.

They also said there was a plan to split the country. "We ask the Congolese people not to cede to these desires for balkanizing national territory. We advise that the international borders of the country, established and recognized in the Berlin Conference and subsequent accords, may never be placed in dispute."

Full text of the Bishops' plea is available here.

In a related story, the Catholic Archbishop of Bukavu François-Xavier Rusengo has asked neighbouring countries to stop interfering in the Congo war as it only adds to tensions in the country.

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