Brazzaville (Fides Service)- Everywhere he went on his 12 day pastoral visit 6-17 February to the district of Mondouli some 75 km south-east of Kinkala in the south west of the region of Pool, Bishop Louis Portella-Mbuyu of Kinkala was warmly welcomed. This area was isolated from the rest of the country for a long time because of the rebellion led by Frederic Bintsamou, known as Ntumi, who formed a rebel movement in 1998 which ravaged the region of Pool.
According to local Church sources Bishop Louis Portella-Mbuyu met Christians of various denominations whose villages had been destroyed by the war. The Bishop went to 13 communities: Kimbedi, Kimfoutou, Loulombo, Mpassa-Mines, Kinkoumba, Kinkembo, Kingoyi, Mindouli, Missafou, Kissanga, Louengo, Kiloubi, Toungadiakou, Loutêté, Nkamou and Massembo-Loubaki. And the welcome given to the Bishop was greater than all expectations. From Kimbedi to Massembo-Loubaki, passing through Mindouli, Toungadiakou, he met with cheering crowds. At Kimfoutou, the Bishop and his delegation were welcomed wit two rifle shots, like in the old days when the sound of Kalashnikov or rockets launched by helicopters was still unknown in this area.
Christians of different Churches, local authorities, military leaders and ex-military spared no effort to make Bishop Portella’s visit a happy event. To everyone he carried the same message: God’s love and a promise to help rebuild their villages. Bishop Portella said that God’s plan for the world is a plan of love. And he said that the cause of destruction in the history of man is lack of love, because love only creates. The Bishop encouraged all he met to pout the past behind and look to the future: only forgiveness opens to path to Resurrection.
During his visit the Bishop conferred the sacrament of Confirmation on 71 people in Mindouli and 39 in Kimbedi, and he baptised 70 people.
The area he visited was hard hit by war from 1998 to 2003. Every village he visited had suffered severe damage: many of churches, priests homes, religious communities, parish halls, schools, dispensaries and private homes were burned to the ground. One example to show the level of destruction. At Loulombo, where Jan Czuba, a Polish fidei donum priest killed in October 1998, is buried, there is no where to shelter when it rains, except for what is left of the little sacristy. Most of the people here still live in the forest where they fled for safety.
From the point of view of security, in some parts there are government troops side by side with former rebels, they have formed mixed peace committees which meet regularly to guarantee order. Many former militia have returned to their villages where they keep a minimum of order. At Kinkoumba it was former rebel troops who welcomed the Bishop and guaranteed his safety during the visit. The former rebel troops asked the Bishop to tell members of international organisations working in other parts of the region that their villages are safe, so they will send humanitarian personnel and aid.
At the end of his visit and such warm demonstrations of faith, Bishop Portells thanked God for the faith and hope of the local Christians who remain faithful despite the loss of their loved ones and destruction of the homes. (M.S.T.) (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 1/3/2004, righe 46 parole 615)