AFRICA/DR CONGO - Cardinal Pasinya accused of "black masses": when politics exploits religion

Friday, 17 November 2017 politics   religion   violence   civil society   human rights  

Le Congolais

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The social and political climate in the Democratic Republic of Congo is becoming increasingly tense due to the postponement of the presidential elections to December 23, 2018. And political clashes also seek to involve and exploit religious leaders.
People close to power have accused Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa, of inciting artists to an uprising just because the Cardinal, on November 10, had met with Congolese artists in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Congo. The meeting was even defined a "black mass". "It is very unpleasant", replied the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in a note sent to Agenzia Fides. "The Cardinal said nothing wrong and did not attack the government in any way. It was a meeting organized by the chaplain responsible for the 'Culture and Art' sector to raise the awareness of artists on their mission in the Church and in society".
The situation has become particularly complex in the country when in December 20, 2016, the second (and last, according to the Constitution) mandate of President Joseph Kabila expired without new elections being announced. An agreement to organize the presidential elections by 2017, the so-called 'San Silvestro Agreement', was reached on 31 December with the mediation of Congolese Bishops. After the failure of the agreement, United States Ambassador Nikky Haley, on a visit to Kinshasa, had imposed elections by 2018, clarifying that otherwise the US would withdraw economic aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On November 5, the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) set the date for the presidential elections on December 23, 2018. The opposition immediately rejected the new electoral calendar, accusing the government in office of wanting to prolong the instability and poverty of the people and various protests throughout the country were organized. Meanwhile, appeals to civil disobedience increase, and also citizens’ movements, including Lucha (Fight for Change) launched a mobilization on November 15 for President Kabila's withdrawal before 31 December 2017.
Although the government had banned any demonstration on 14 November, last Wednesday’s mobilization, which instead received the support and participation of the Grouping of the opposition, almost paralyzed the cities of Beni, Butembo, Goma and Lubumbashi, but only partly concerned the capital Kinshasa. There were unfortunaltey clashes: on the streets of Lubumbashi, barricades were built and a vehicle was burned, while in Kinshasa a person was wounded due to the attack on two public buses. The police intervention led to the arrest of 25 people. Last Wednesday’s demonstrations were just the beginning of a series of marches, of "civil disobedience" demonstrations scheduled for the next few days to force the president to resign. The Church, meanwhile, sensitizes Catholics and all people of good will in order to bring the country out of poverty and lead it towards peace and non-violence. (MP-ER) (Agenzia Fides, 17/11/2017)