10 Roman Catholic priests arrested in protests in Congo

Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in April 2016 (Photo: Wikimedia)

KINSHASA, DRC – Tensions continue to escalate in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following protests organized by Catholic leaders. Recent protests began following Mass services on Sunday, January 21, and led to the deaths of an estimated six people, the wounding of 100 more, and the arrest of 10 priests. Two nuns are reportedly missing, and 200 more non-clergy were arrested.

The protests were called against DRC President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001. Catholic bishops had organized an agreement in which Kabila was supposed allow for elections, but this transition of power has been delayed by more than a year. Opposition to the government continues to fester and the Catholic Church’s position in brokering talks with the government has made it a focal point for opposition.

Late in December 2017, approximately seven people died during protests against the Kabila government, and the government response included the arrest of altar boys.

For the full story via the Religious News Service, click here.

The DRC’s bishops have asked for the intervention of President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the neighboring Republic of Congo to help broker a true agreement for elections (The DRC and Republic of Congo share a long border, and their national capitals are on opposite sides of the Congo River).

The government of President Kabila in the DRC has postponed elections until December 23, 2018, and there is great doubt over whether they will occur.

About half of the 80 million citizens of the DRC are Catholic, and the Church remains one of the few respected and organized institutions in the African nation.

“The Church has become the most credible institution in the country and consequently finds herself in the line of fire. But it is necessary, because no one else dares to protest,” said Father Apollinaire Cibaka Cikongo, a professor at the seminary of Christ the King (Christ Roi) in Malole, Kananga.

For an overview of the problems in the DRC through Crux, click here.