Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Fr. Robert Masinda is still a prisoner, but we know he is alive and we hope he will be released soon", says to Agenzia Fides Mgr. Laurent Sondirya, Vicar General of the diocese of Butembo-Beni, in North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Fr. Robert Masinda, parish priest of Bingo, was kidnapped on January 22nd along with 5 other people. "Four of Fr. Robert's collaborators have been released. Fr. Robert and one collaborator have not yet been freed and remain in the hands of the kidnappers", says the Vicar General.
The kidnappers appear to be soldiers who have asked for a ransom.
In a statement published in Kinshasa yesterday, 23 January, the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) condemns the kidnapping of Fr. Robert and his collaborators and denounces the various kidnappings of priests in the area, recalling Fr. Charles Kipasa and Fr. Jean Pierre Akilimali , kidnapped on 16 July 2017 by armed men in military uniforms in the parish of Maria Regina degli Angeli in Bunyuka, on the outskirts of Butembo (see Fides 18/7/2017), still in the hands of the kidnappers, and the 3 Assumptionist priests, Jean-Pierre Ndulani , Anselme Wasikundi and Edmond Bamutute, kidnapped in their parish of Notre-Dame des Pauvres of Mbau, 22 km from Beni (see Fides 22/10/2012). Always in Beni, another Assumptionist, Fr. Vincent Machozi, who for years denounced the illegal exploitation of Coltan, was killed in March 2016 (see Fides 22/3/2016).
"CENCO demands the immediate release of all prisoners, and appeals to the Congolese authorities and MONUSCO (UN Mission in the DRC) to guarantee the security of the population and to quickly identify the perpetrators of these crimes", the statement said.
His Eminence Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa denounced the violent repression of the demonstrations called by the Catholic laity on Sunday 21 January (see Fides 22 and 23 January 2018). On recalling the victims of the repression, where at least six died and several were wounded, the Cardinal asked "Have we become an open-air prison? How can we kill men, women, children and old men who were singing hymns, holding bibles, rosaries and crucifixes?". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 24/1/2018)