By Fr. Paul Samasumo
Democratic Republic of Congo’s Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, has made a passionate plea for the full implementation of the 31 December 2016 Agreement if the country is to come out of its current political impasse.
“Right now we are in a situation of ‘wait and see.’ President Kabila is someone who always wants to resolve matters on his own terms. However, he needs to engage with the 31 December Accord. We need to go ahead with the implementation of that Agreement which asked Kabila not to re-contest and not to amend the Constitution,” Cardinal Monsengwo told Vatican media personnel in Rome over the weekend. The Cardinal was speaking at the Palazzo Pio’s Sala Marconi hall.
On 31 December 2016, the DRC’s Catholic Bishops under Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) facilitated the signing of an agreement between the government and opposition political parties. The settlement guaranteed, among other things, that President Joseph Kabila would not seek an unconstitutional third mandate.
The agreement has never really been implemented, and there have been demonstrations in the major cities of the DRC mostly led by the Church. Cardinal Monsengwo revealed that the Holy Father would consider visiting the DRC if it were not for the political crisis in his country.
Pope Francis would like to see a peaceful DRC
“The Holy Father wants us to pray for the people and with the people. He has said clearly that we need to ensure that people avoid getting used to killing other people simply because they want to get ahead in their political life. The Pope has shown us that he is constantly praying for peace in the DRC,” Cardinal Monsengwo said.
Last week, DRC’s Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala told international media that President Kabila would not seek a third mandate in the country’s elections now scheduled for December 2018.
Church in DRC can influence young people positively
The Cardinal also took the opportunity to address Vatican journalists about the situation of the youth in the DRC.
“The Church is full of young people, and the Church in Congo would like its young people to grow into citizens who are convinced about their civic responsibilities,” the Cardinal said. According to Cardinal Monsengwo, the Church in the DRC is concerned about the welfare of its young persons. In Kinshasa with 10 million inhabitants, the Church is in a unique position of influencing young people positively.
“In the capital Kinshasa alone, we have 590 schools that are in the hands of the Catholic Church on behalf of the government. In addition, the Church also has more than 50 private schools belonging either to parishes or religious congregations. What this means is that, if the Church in Kinshasa or generally in the DRC works well with these young people in our schools, we have an opportunity to change them and mould them into better citizens,” he said.