AFRICA/CONGO - Archdiocese of Brazzaville commemorates Cardinal Emile Biayenda abducted and murdered 27 years ago

Wednesday, 24 March 2004

Brazzaville (Fides Service)- On Monday March 22, the Church in Congo marked the 27th anniversary of the death Cardinal Emile Biayenda, Archbishop of Brazzaville abducted and murdered on 22 March 1977. Requiem Masses were celebrated in parishes across the country and a solemn Mass celebrated at the Major Seminary in Brazzaville named after the late Cardinal, was presided by Bishop Ernest Kombo, president of the Congo Bishops’ Conference, who concelebrated with Archbishop Anatole Milandou of Brazzaville, Archbishop Barthélemy Batantu emeritus of Brazzaville, Bishop Daniel Mizonzo, Bishop of Nkayi and Bishop Bernard Nsayi emeritus of Nkayi and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Congo.
In the afternoon of March 22, 1977, Cardinal Biayenda was abducted from his residence next to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Brazzaville and killed by a group of soldiers. Still today the reason for the crime is unclear. The incident came at a time of tension immediately following the assassination on 18 March 1977 of President Marien Ngouabi. Shortly before his abduction Cardinal Biayenda had launched an appeal for national unity.
Cardinal Biayenda, the second Congo born archbishop after Théophile Mbemba, was born in 1927, at Maléla Bombé (Mpangala), Kindamba district in the region of Pool. He attended St Paul’s seminary in Mbamou and studied theology and philosophy at the Libermann Major Seminary in Brazzaville. He was ordained a priest on 25 October 1950 by Archbishop Michel Bernard, the then Archbishop of Brazzaville. He was persecuted and arrested and tortured several times in 1964 and 1965. He continued his studies in theology and sociology in France in Lyons where he obtained a doctorate in social sciences. On 7 March 1970, Pope Paul VI appointed him coadjutor Bishop of Brazzaville. On 14 June 1974 he succeeded Archbishop Théophile Mbemba. On 5 March 1973 he was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
The diocesan stage of the process for Cardinal Biayenda’s beatification and canonisation opened on 21 October 1996 and was completed on 14 June 2003. (M.S.T.) (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 24/3/2004, righe 29 parole 349)