Catholic leaders in Congo said they hope for lasting peace, after the bishops’ conference helped mediate a government-opposition accord.
“We’re all saluting this great step, the fruit of a dialogue arranged by the Church,” said Mgr Leonard Santedi Kinkupu, rector of Kinshasa’s Catholic University and former of secretary-general of the bishops’ conference.
“Being a Catholic country has given us an advantage over other African states when it comes to seeking peace, and it’s good the Church and its bishops have been instrumental in bringing this about,” he told Catholic News Service on 3rd January, as talks opened on practical implementation of the 31st December accord between opposition leaders and representatives of President Joseph Kabila.
Mgr Kinkupu told CNS that Congo’s feuding politicians had been unable to arrange their own talks and could be thankful for the “huge benefits” offered by Catholic mediators.
“The Church has always been involved in the work for peace and could use its moral authority to bring about direct negotiations,” he said. “We now have a real chance of sparing our country from further violence, and this is why everyone has welcomed the Church’s engagement and offer of hope.”
Picture: Congolese Bishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu signs the accord between the opposition and the government of President Joseph Kabila on 31st December at the bishops’ conference in Kinshasa. Kabila will step down as Congolese president after elections are held before the end of 2017, under an agreement by the government and the opposition. (CNS photo/Kenny Katombe, Reuters).