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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Congo’s bishops condemn repression, demand elections

Catholic bishops in Congo accused their government of suppressing civil liberties and demanded free elections envisaged under a Church-brokered New Year accord.

“The miserable situation we’re living in reflects the persistent social-economic crisis, which is due to the failure to organise elections,” the bishops’ conference said. “Although our republic’s constitution guarantees every citizen the right to enjoy their freedoms, we’re seeing a growing restriction on freedom of expression and the barring of peaceful demonstrations, alongside an excessive use of force.”

In a 24-point message after their 19th to 23rd June plenary in Kinshasa, the bishops said they were “profoundly alarmed” by deteriorating economic, security and humanitarian conditions, as well as by rampant corruption and fiscal abuses.

They added that 60 Catholic parishes had been “profaned and closed” during nationwide violence, along with 31 Catholic health centres and 141 Church-run schools, while 20 Catholic villages and thousands of private homes had been “completely destroyed.”

“The massive, uncontrolled and permanent presence of foreign armed groups is sowing desolation,” the bishops’ conference said.

Picture: Peacekeepers drive past burning tires as they patrol protests against President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, Congo, on 10th April. (CNS photo/Robert Carrubba, Reuters).