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Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) Mourns Her Children, « She will not be consoled »

 

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Statement by Congo Bishops’ Standing Committee Re: War in Northeast Congo

22/11/2008: Dem. Rep. of the Congo

1. We the Archbishops and Bishops of the Standing Committee of the National Congolese Bish-ops’ Conference have met in Kinshasa, oppressed and overwhelmed by the human tragedy occur-ring in our country’s northeast region. We send out a cry of distress and of protest, from this, our extraordinary meeting of November 10 to 13. In fact, only a single month has passed since our Na-tional Bishops Conference, through its President, made a statement dealing with the resumption of hostilities in the Northeast RDC.

Despite our heartfelt plea, both to our government leaders and to the international community, it is crystal clear that the situation in the concerned area of our country has merely gone from bad to worse. Now it has assumed intolerable dimensions, deeply troubling ones that raise the possibility of destabilizing the entire area if something is not done. Yes, today, as Scripture has it, “A voice is heard in the Democratic Republic of Congo, sobbing and loud lamentation: Goma, Kiwanga, Dungu, the whole nation weeping for her children and she would not be consoled, since they are no more (Matthew 2:18).


A Silent Genocide ?

2. Resembling a silent genocide, a true humanitarian drama is unfolding in eastern RDC before the eyes of everyone. Senseless massacres on a huge scale targeting civilians, exterminations aimed at young people, organized rape used as an instrument of war: once again a cruelty of the greatest virulence is being unleashed against local populations who have never sought anything other than a peaceful, decent life on their own land. Who might be interested in creating such a sordid drama?

3. Saddest of all is the fact that the tragic events are occurring under the unpitying eye of those who have received the duty of maintaining the peace and protecting civilian populations. Showing themselves unable to react in the face of such a wide-ranging situation, the agents of our own gov-ernment give the impression of not being able to measure up to the challenge of keeping the peace, of defending the Congolese population and the national territory. The political class as a whole seems to be failing in carrying out its own responsibility in confronting this drama which puts at risk the future of the nation.


Natural resources and Balkanization – the nerve center of the war

4. It is clear that the natural resources of RDC are what feed the greed of certain powerful parties, and that the resources play a part in the violence being inflicted upon the population. In fact, every single conflict has its origin in economic interests linked to natural resources. How else can we understand the way in which different agreements have been violated without any efficacious check upon those who have signed the documents?

The various conferences and meetings which have been held to resolve this crisis have not gone to the root of the problem, making only for delays and for the disappointment of our people’s legiti-mate expectations of peace and justice. Besides, the plan to balkanize our country, a plan we have never stopped denouncing, is put into effect by puppet figures whose strings are being pulled by others. One has the impression that operatives are working together as members of an extensive network upon which no one can stick a name.

The greatness of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its countless riches must never be used as a pretext for turning it into an ill-defined geographical space. We ask the Congolese people never to accede to the slightest suggestion of balkanizing our national territory. We recommend that the Congolese never subscribe to the idea that our national borders may be questioned, borders that were set up by international accords recognized since the Berlin Conference and in later agree-ments.


Condemnation

5. - We vehemently condemn the ignoble way in which war becomes a means of resolving prob-lems and of gaining power. The institutional structures that issue from democratic elections carried out in our country must be preserved.
- We denounce all crimes carried out against peaceful citizens, and we do not accept in the slightest way any aggression against our national borders.
- We condemn the lax manner in which the international Community treats the aggression of which our country is victim.


What are we asking for?

6. We demand the cessation of hostility and the guarantee of security so that those who have been displaced may return to their lands.
7. With urgency, we call for national and international solidarity so that humanitarian aid may be increased on behalf of the thousands of men, women and children crowded into emergency camps.
8. We invite all the Congolese people to a fresh burst of national energy so as to live as brothers and sisters in solidarity and as a united country, so that the Democratic Republic of Congo does not succumb to violence and fragmentation.
9. We urge the Congolese government to do everything possible in order to re-establish peace over the entire extent of the national territory. To exercise their rights of leadership is a sacred duty of those who hold office in our country, so that the citizenry is protected and our national frontiers are kept secure. No one can fail to see how the absence of a national army is detrimental to peace in our country.
10. We ask the international community sincerely to become involved with a view to having inter-national law observed. We believe that there is an urgent need for the presence of peace-keeping forces to stabilize our country and re-establish its rule of law. Every single person benefits from a situation when the Congo is at peace rather than at war.


The Church’s Commitment

11. One with the sufferings of her people, the Church, as Family of God in the Congo, commits itself to staying at the side of her suffering children, so as to lead them as sons and daughters on the path of reconciliation and peace. The Church expresses its gratitude to his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (a) for giving attention to the Democratic Republic of Congo, by his repeated appeals for a peaceful resolution of the problems and (b) for the financial assistance which he himself has pro-vided to assist the refugees.

12. Christ, our Lord, remained watchful in prayer at Gethsemani and felt in his own person the suf-ferings inflicted upon the members of his Body (Matt. 25:31-46). May he watch now with us and support us as we confront this drama through which our country is now passing.

May the Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain peace for this our beloved country.

Kinshasa, November 13, 2008

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