AFRICA/DR CONGO - “A lively Church but the faith needs to be deepened” says President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Monday, 15 September 2014

Roma (Agenzia Fides)- “We intend to work to deepen the Christian faith and also to expand the contribution which the Church can make towards the wellbeing of our country” says Bishop Nicolas Diomo, Bishop of Tshumbe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO), in Rome for the ad limina visit and interviewed by Fides:

Bishop Diomo this year marks the 50th anniversary of the sacrifice of Blessed Maria Clementina Anuarite Nengapeta. How are you preparing for this event?

“The year to recall Blessed Maria Clementina Anuarite Nengapeta will begin in early December with an important pilgrimage. We will make a three day pilgrimage of prayer to Isiro the place where she was martyred.
The Year will help make Blessed Anuarite better known since many of the faithful, our young people especially, know nothing or very little about her. This is why the first purpose is to make blessed Anuarite better known in parishes and Basic Christian Communities and in this way offer her as an example of Christian life and also as someone to whom we all can pray for intercession for our needs.

What challenges face the Church in the DRC?

Our Church expresses its faith with great vitality as it continues to grow, but we the bishops wish to help the faith take ever deeper root. We note a certain superficiality among our faithful who tend at times to return to magical practices, as if the Christian faith still needs to deepen its roots.
This is true even among intellectuals and politicians. Deeper faith would help them act according to Christian values and in this way transform politics itself. Instead we often see this is not the case. This is why our activity tends towards in-depth evangelisation”.

In this regard we recognise a major problem due to the persistence of pagan beliefs, the tragedy of children accused of witchery and “banished by their families”.

“This drama stems first of all from the dire poverty of too many Congolese families. In this situation it happens that the value of children is relativized to the point that a child is often given away in return for some material goods or benefit. Poverty is a challenge to the Gospel. We see many young people and also our own adult faithful join religious sects to find some immediate material relief from the misery in which they live.
We address this challenge in two ways: on the one hand we strive to deepen the faith and on the other we demand that our government manage better the enormous resources of our country in order to relieve the poverty of our people. The scandal of the DRC is that as a nation it is immensely rich in natural resources but its population lives in situations of dire need and poverty and is often the victim of these riches because of persons we can only call predators who illegally take possession of this wealth at the expense of the people and the natural environment, to the point that inhabitants of whole regions are enslaved for the exploitation of mines.

Is the Catholic Church involved in furthering the process of disarmament and demobilisation of rebel groups in the east of the country ?

“The process of disarmament is the task of the government and the United Nations Organisation. Once disarmed, former combatants (very often children) are assisted by our structures which provide psychological re-education, rehabilitation in society and family and basic instruction. This is a service that we try to guarantee in every diocese”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 15/9/2014)