Monday, February 23, 2009

The Bishops Speak

I haven't been able to find the actual declaration put out by the Catholic Bishop's Conference* that took place earlier this month, although I've seen several allusions to it. But this story in an unofficial publication of the Catholic Church provides a good summary.

Briefly put, the declaration calls for the promotion of good things and an end to the bad things, but adds a twist of nationalism to the usual bromides. Titled, "Be on Guard! Peace in Justice and Truth," the declaration makes a series of unsurprising recommendations to the usual suspects, for example, that the international community should do all it can to help the internally displaced.

But in addition, the declaration alludes frequently to the presence of foreign armies on Congolese soil and aggressively calls for their removal. "We continue to deplore the slowness in setting up an army to defend our people and ensure the integrity of our territory," they say. The continuing presence of foreign armies on the land worries the people, still "traumatized by the actions committed by these forces in the recent past."

The declaration asks the Congolese people and civil society organizations to be vigilant in unmasking any hidden plan and to oppose by all legal and peaceful means any attempt to balkanize their country and illegally exploit its resources. "Territorial integrity and national sovereignty are inviolable and non-negotiable under any pretext," say the bishops.

Over to you, Rwandan prelates. Will it be swords or pistols at dawn?

*Which in French is confusingly called the National Episcopal Conference, la Conférence épiscopale nationale de RDC.

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