Congo Bishops on Nation's Ongoing Conflict

"We Are Living Through a Genuine Human Tragedy"

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KINSHASA, Congo, NOV. 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement issued Thursday by the Permanent Commission of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo on the situation of the war-torn country.



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"The Republic of Congo mourns its sons and will not be consoled" (cf. Matthew 2:18).

1. We, archbishops and bishops, members of the Permanent Commission of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo, meeting in Kinshasa, in extraordinary session from Nov. 10-13, 2008, afflicted and overwhelmed by the human tragedy in the east and northeast of the D.R. of Congo, launch a cry of desperation and protest.

In fact, only just a month ago our last National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), through its president, made a statement on the renewal of hostilities in the east and northeast of the D.R. of Congo. Despite our anguished cries for help addressed to our political leaders as well as to the international community, the situation in this part of our country has only worsened and is taking on unbearable dimensions, highly disquieting and capable of destabilizing the whole region if something is not done urgently.

If, as Scripture tells us today: a cry has been heard in the D.R. of Congo, much weeping and lament: it is Goma, Kiwanja, Dungu, it is the whole nation that mourns its sons and will not be consoled, because they exist no longer (cf. Matthew 2:18).

A Silent Genocide?

2. We are living through a genuine human tragedy that, as a silent genocide, is being carried out under everyone's eyes. The large-scale massacres of the civil population, the selective extermination of young people, the systematic violations carried out as a weapon of war, have again been unleashed with unthinkable cruelty and virulence against the local population that has never asked for more than a tranquil and dignified life in their lands. Who is interested in such a tragedy?

3. What is most deplorable is that these terrible events occur under the impassive gaze of those who have received the mandate to maintain peace and protect the civil population. Our political leaders themselves seem impotent in face of the scope of the situation, and give the impression of not being up to the challenges of peace, of the defense of the Congolese population and of the integrity of the national territory. The whole political class does not seem to understand the dimension of their responsibility in face of this tragedy and runs the risk of mortgaging the nation's future.

Axis of the War: Natural Resources and Plan of Balkanization

4. It is obvious that the natural resources of the D.R. of Congo fuel the greed of certain powers that are not foreign to the violence imposed on the population. Indeed, all the conflicts take place on the economic routes and around mineral deposits. How can one understand that the different agreements are violated without any effective pressure to oblige the signatories to respect them?

The different conferences and meetings to resolve this crisis have not yet addressed the profound issues and have done no more than postpone and defraud the legitimate aspirations of peace and justice of our people. Moreover, the plan of Balkanization, which we do not cease to denounce, is being carried out by interposed persons. There is the impression of a great conspiracy that remains hidden.

The greatness of the D.R. of Congo and its numerous riches must not serve as pretext to turn it into a jungle. We appeal to the Congolese people never to give in to the whims of those who wish to Balkanize their national territory. We recommend that they never sign a revision of the borders established at the international level and recognized by the Berlin Conference and subsequent agreements.

5. We vehemently condemn this ignoble manner of considering the war as a means to resolve the problems and acquire power. The constitutional order emanated from the democratic elections in our country must be maintained.

-- We denounce all the crimes committed against peaceful citizens and disapprove in the most absolute way all aggression to the national territory.

-- We denounce the negligence with which the international community addresses the problems of aggression of which our country is victim.

What Do We Request?

6. We ask for the immediate cessation of hostilities and that conditions of security be guaranteed for the return of all the displaced to their lands.

7. We appeal with greatest urgency for national and international solidarity, so that humanitarian aid is increased in favor of the thousands of men, women and children crowding the camps.

8. We invite the whole Congolese population to a national awakening to live as brothers and sisters, in solidarity and national cohesion, so that the D.R. of Congo will not be carried away by violence and divisions.

9. We exhort the Congolese government to make all the necessary efforts to re-establish peace throughout the national territory. It is the sacred duty of our political leaders to exercise their functions of government to protect the people and guarantee the security of the borders. No one ignores the fact that the lack of a republican army is harmful to peace in the country.

10. We appeal to the international community to be sincerely committed to respect for international law. We consider it an imperative need to send a force of pacification and stabilization to re-establish rights in our country. The whole world will gain more with a Congo in peace than a Congo at war.

The Church's Commitment

11. Sharing in the sufferings of her people, the Church-family of God that is in the D.R. of Congo, commits herself to accompany her sons and daughters on the path of reconciliation and peace. She expresses her acknowledgement to His Holiness Benedict XVI for his concern over the tragedy of the D.R. of Congo, for his repeated appeals to all in order to find a peaceful solution and to obtain the financial aid that he himself has just given to relieve the displaced people.

12. May the Lord, who prayed for hours in the Garden of Gethsemane and who felt as his own the sufferings inflicted and imposed on the members of his body (cf. Matthew 25:31-46), watch with us and sustain us in face of the tragedy our country is suffering.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our beloved homeland.

Given in Kinshasa, Nov. 13, 2008.

[Translation by ZENIT]