Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The priestly vocation is a gift and a mystery: this is what the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu said in his address to the more than six hundred priests who gathered to celebrate the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Congo. The celebration of Holy Thursday was also an occasion for the Cardinal to encourage reflection on the identity of the priest and to remind Congolese priests to be aware of the relationship between anointing and mission, thus inviting them to always be committed to the mission to be available, no matter how demanding.
The Archbishop of Kinshasa did not fail to mention the controversy provoked by the letter published in March by the Bishops' Conference of the Congo (CENCO) on the subject "At the school of Jesus. For an authentic priestly life''. The Cardinal spoke of "confusion due to a misinterpretation of the text" and a selective reading that has led to a distorted view of irregular emotional relationships between priests and the people involved. Cardinal Fridolin put the bishops' text in the right context by explaining, that it was neither a novelty nor a Congolese invention, but should be understood as a reminder of the doctrinal and disciplinary requirements of the Church regarding priestly celibacy. He therefore urged all priests "to be vigilant and to pray so as not to to be tempted".
Priests, meanwhile, are also at risk of violence and kidnapping in Congo. The situation is particularly serious in North Kivu (on the border with Uganda), whose capital is Goma. "Rebel groups" are active there, terrorizing the population, and Christian priests and missionaries are often the victims.
The Catholic Church of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is preparing to receive Pope Francis, who will be in the DRC from July 2-5 as part of a planned trip to Africa. The Pope will visit a country plagued by armed conflict, where the Church plays an important political role and where 40% of the 90 million inhabitants are Catholics. (MP/EG) (Agenzia Fides, 26/4/2022)