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Bishop in Democratic Republic of the Congo: ‘We are in a state of utter misery’

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as in many others in Africa, Islamic jihadis are increasingly aggressive. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one of the principal groups referred to below as “marauding militia groups,” is aligned with ISIS. According to another Congolese clergyman, “the rebel militants intend to establish an Islamist state ruled by sharia (Islamic law).” Note also the Bishop’s statement that “the state as such does not exist. The reach of the government does not extend into the east, be it out of weakness or complicity.” This is in line with the official indifference to the persecution of Christians that we see in all too many countries.

There is in Congo a small indigenous Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Please pray fervently for an end to this cruelty and bloodlust, and ask our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to enable the Orthodox Church in Congo to enjoy peace and security, and to flourish, bringing the light of Christ to this troubled region.

For more coverage of the persecution of Christians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, see here.

“Democratic Republic of the Congo: ‘We are in a state of utter misery,’” Aid to the Church in Need, May 17, 2021:

THE BISHOP OF BUTEMBO-BENI IN THE EASTERN PART OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC) denounced the human rights violations being carried out in his diocese by marauding militia groups. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Paluku Sekuli Melchisédech explained: “The number of incidents is particularly high in the northern part of our diocese. Armed groups are destroying schools and hospitals. Teachers and pupils are being killed. They are even killing the sick as they lie in their hospital beds. Not a day goes by without people being killed.”

According to the bishop, the crisis has led to a rise in psychological disorders. “We need centers where people can go for therapy. Many people are traumatized. Many have watched as their parents were killed. There are many orphans and widows. Villages have been burned to the ground. We are in a state of utter misery.”

For years, the eastern provinces of the DRC have been besieged by militia groups. Important factors in this development are ethnic conflicts, demographic displacement. and access to raw materials. Over the last few years, the situation has been exacerbated by a powerful radical Islamist element.

According to Bishop Melchisédech, more than 6,000 people have been killed in Beni since 2013, and more than 2,000 people in 2020 in Bunia alone. “In addition, there are at least 3 million displaced persons and about 7,500 people have been kidnapped. A large-scale project is underway to Islamize or expel the indigenous populations,” the bishop said.

Public life has come to a standstill out of fear of terrorist attacks and to protest at the collapse of the government. “It is a time of unrest, protest marches, strikes, civil rights movements. Normal life is paralyzed. People are calling for more security.”

“The state as such does not exist. The reach of the government does not extend into the east, be it out of weakness or complicity.”

The indifference of the state has led the Catholic Church to take on a special role, the bishop emphasized. “We are 1500 miles from the capital. As the government is doing nothing here, we must take care of ourselves. We do not receive any help.” However, the Church has still managed to build schools in the region.

However, an even more crucial part of its work is keeping hope alive for the people. “Our presence gives the people hope that they will be able to overcome their current adversities and that better days will come,” the bishop stressed.

“The people cry because they have reason to. But they also carry a seed of hope within them. They have a natural resilience that is strengthened by evangelization.”

Christianity was introduced in this region about 120 years ago, the bishop said. “Evangelization is bearing fruit. We have many vocations in our diocese.”…

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