News 26 Jun 2024

DRC: Bishop calls on authorities to end torment of the Congolese people

In a message sent to ACN, Monsignor Sikuli Paluku, Bishop of Butembo-Beni, denounces the atrocities committed by the ADF this month. The bishop insists that there cannot be a separation between faith and the defense of human dignity.

Following massacres by the rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Baswagha-Madiwe group of villages in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which have cost the lives of some 150 people since the beginning of June, Mgr Melchisédech Sikuli Paluku, the Bishop of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni in North-Kivu, published a “message of denunciation, compassion and proclamation” on Tuesday 18 June 2024.

In this message, which was sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the bishop denounces the killings “of a peaceful population, left without defense and without security,” the abduction of persons “without a single trace,” and the rape of girls and women. He also reports that the ADF has burned houses, medical structures, businesses, and vehicles across the whole region. Survivors have fled for safer areas.

A region prey to rebel militias

The bishop vehemently calls on the country’s authorities “to end the Calvary of the Congolese people in general, and the population of Butembo-Beni in particular, a Calvary which has lasted too long in this martyred region.” He also expresses his compassion, closeness, and communion with all the people who are suffering.

Bishop denounces the killings

Rich in natural resources, this eastern region of the DRC has been subject to violent incursions by rebel militias for decades. In recent years, Monsignor Pakulu has spoken many times with ACN about this dire situation.

Since the 1990s, the ADF has been involved in military operations and massacres in the Beni region of North-Kivu, where many militant groups are active. The rebel group originated in Uganda and is believed to have been affiliated with the Islamic State since 2017, though the exact nature of these links is difficult to determine.d

Car burnt after an attack in the diocese of Butembo-Beni

According to various media, the Islamic State said in an online message that one of the June attacks in North-Kivu was aimed at Christians.

“Life will conquer death”

“In the name of the infinite dignity of each human person, created in the image and likeness of God.” Monsignor Paluku denounces “for the umpteenth time this indescribable drama.” The bishop considers it his duty to denounce these grave violations of human dignity, because “you cannot separate faith from the defense of human dignity, nor evangelization from the promotion of a dignified life, or spirituality from commitment to the dignity of all human beings.”

At the same time, he delivers a message of hope: “With the mobilization of the Congolese people, good will triumphs over evil, life will conquer death and truth will destroy lies.”

On June 16th, during the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis likewise condemned the massacres and asked both the country’s authorities and the international community to do “everything possible to stop the violence and safeguard the lives of civilians,” insisting that among the recent victims of the ADF, there were “Christians killed in odium fidei,” martyrs whose sacrifice “is a seed which germinates and bears fruit and teaches us to bear witness to the Gospel with courage and consistency.”


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