African Bishops' Statement on Congo Violence

"Causing Again a Major Human Tragedy"

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KINSHASA, Congo, NOV. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a statement released last Thursday by the presidents of the bishops' conferences of Africa and the bishop-presidents of national Caritas agencies on the continent, regarding the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The city of Goma in east Congo fell to M23 rebels two days before the release of the statement (on Nov. 20). The bishops were gathered to meet about the work of Caritas in Africa.

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Bishops of Africa
Call for the cessation of the war and the respect of the territorial integrity of the DR Congo Kinshasa, 22 November 2012

We, Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Bishop Presidents of National Caritas in Africa, coming from thirty four countries of the continent, gathered in a Conference on the identity and mission of Caritas in Kinshasa from November 20th to 22nd, 2012, express deep concern and solidarity with the Congolese people. We are outraged and shocked by the escalating armed violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo which is causing again a major human tragedy.

Thousands of men, women and children, the victims of this war which is imposed on them, are displaced and abandoned in destitution in Goma and its surroundings. They are exposed to the bad weather, hunger, rape and all kinds of abuses, including recruiting of children into the army. This constitutes an offence to their dignity as human beings and children of God.

We are convinced that the time is no longer for war or conquest, but rather to promote cooperation between peoples and that the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo must be protected and respected by all. We are aware of the contribution of the exploitation of natural resources to this situation, and we therefore urge a fair, just and transparent exploitation of natural resources and distribution of the proceeds of such an activity to benefit all.

In communion with the Bishops of the Congo who have frequently taken position on this situation, we launch a pressing appeal to the UN, the AU, the EU, the DRC Government and the governments of the other countries involved in some way in this war as well as to multinational companies in the extractive sector. May they, once and for all, address the causes of this recurrent violence through promoting dialogue in an honest and transparent manner so as to find, urgently, a fair and concerted solution, able to put an end to the suffering of the civilian populations of the Eastern DRC; thus avoiding plunging them into despair and violence. The perpetrators of such violence and destruction should be brought to justice.

In the face of the aggravation of the suffering afflicting these brothers and sisters, and faithful to the mission of Christian charity and solidarity, we ask our Caritas network, other charitable organisations of our respective Churches and humanitarian agencies to double their efforts to come to their help.

We implore the Almighty God, the Lord of Peace, to inspire Peace to those who wage war, plan and program it, and to let grow in the hearts of the people who live in the Great Lakes Region brotherhood and mutual respect.

May Mary, Our Lady of Africa and Our Lady of Peace, intercede for us. signed in Kinshasa, on November 22, 2012