Flash PAC n° 45 – Echos du Conseil Provincial du 23 au 28 avril 2018 (restreint aux confrères)
The government is determined to hold a referendum on May 17. Many people are afraid of the insecurity that would precede or accompany the referendum. However, despite the Burundian political crisis, there are repatriations of refugees from Tanzania and Rwanda, and the dollar rate has fallen slightly. There is a fuel shortage here and there. Military and police patrol more than usual. As for the situation of the Church, we have had the circulation of a leaflet on whatsapp which highlights that the number of Hutu bishops is much higher than that of Tutsi. For this reason, the author of the leaflet asks that new Tutsi bishops be appointed to create an ethnic balance. Despite this observation, the bishops of Burundi are united.
In the former Katanga region, as throughout the national territory, in December and January there were marches or attempted marches to demand respect for the Constitution and the holding of elections; as with most of these demonstrations, there was violent repression. At the church of St. Bernadette, a confrontation was reported between some members of political parties and police officers: throwing stones and bludgeoning. It all began at the exit of the Sunday Mass on 21 January 2018 when the promoters of the march began to shout slogans to push the crowd of Christians into the procession; immediately the situation degenerated and the police incursion reached as far as the church. The arrival of the Monusco has calmed spirits and calm has returned.
In the districts of the city and especially those on the outskirts, organized robberies, sometimes followed by rape and murder, are commonplace and there is no real commitment on the part of the authorities to try to eradicate them. The main roads around Kalemie have become dangerous because of armed groups; this blocks road traffic.
The major event was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Mgr Jean-Pierre Tafunga from 31 January to 4 February 2018. The main celebration took place at the T.P. Mazembe stadium with the participation of 20,000 Christians (full stadium) and about fifteen bishops. Despite the tense political situation, everything went well.
Another major event is announced for 2020: the National Eucharistic Congress. The current effort of the Diocese of Lubumbashi is concentrated on the construction of the Pastoral Centre, which began with the laying of the first stone in 2014.
The diocese of Goma succeeded in mobilizing young people for the Diocesan Youth Day and involving political actors in peace-building: there was a direct dialogue with the governor of the province.
The diocese organizes days of formation and sessions for pastoral agents, the faithful, parish secretaries, etc.
Christians are well involved in the activities of the diocese, in the care of their parishes and pastors.
The Karambi parish priest was kidnapped on Easter day and released on the night of 4 April 2018 after paying a ransom. The parish priest of Kitshanga was murdered on the 2nd Sunday of Easter in one of his outstations.
A Protestant pastor attacked the Catholic Church in his church and on his radio station with insults, words unworthy of a pastor. After a complaint from the Catholic Church, this pastor was arrested and imprisoned as a troublemaker and incitator of hatred. He was also involved in the kidnapping of a musician from Goma and in the fraud.
Relations between the Church and the State are conflictual.
The march organized by the diocesan lay committee following the call of CENCO was not supported by the diocese. For the Bishop, Goma is an area of fracture which has always known problems, troubles to which no one has ever been able to find answers to restore peace. As a result, he is not ready to engage his diocese in an arm wrestling match with the state. The construction of the new cathedral of the diocese is partly taken in charge by the First Lady of the country, which puts the Bishop in a delicate situation. It can only close its eyes to political realities. Construction stopped for several months.
In Mahagi, it is a situation of fear and insecurity. A growing number of displaced people are seeking to go to Uganda to find refugee status abroad. The cost of living is becoming very high. There are many displaced people in Mahagi territory near the parish of Angumu (Mahagi Port).
Through conferences, visits of the displaced in the camps, the Mahagi Church tries to be present to the people by motivating them to hold on in difficult times.
In Bunia there is a climate of fear, mistrust and discontent because of the large number of displaced people and people killed during the crisis. The population is disappointed with its leaders. Aid is provided by the Church (Caritas) in some IDP camps. Some families have opened their doors to the displaced, as has our parish in Yambi (Pukpa). The sector intervenes materially thanks to the financial support received from Rome. The parish is also involved through the Christians who are close to these displaced people.
For the government, the situation is that of an interethnic war and for the Church, it is a manipulation of people to make them believe in an interethnic war and the governor would be behind all this.
Currently, the government is forcing people against their will, to return to their villages to make the camps for the displaced disappear in the city but in vain: the displaced return to the nearest camps as soon as they arrive in the village where they do not feel at all protected.
The consecrated men of the Deanery of the North of Bunia meet in Bunia. The parishes of Lita, Jiba and Pimbo are closed. Fataki and Drodro are full of displaced people, Mongbwalu and Bambu are idling.
On Palm Sunday the JDJ took place with about 8,000 young people around the bishop who gave them courage and urged them not to let their freedom be stolen.
The parish of Yambi Yaya has 25 villages for 14,000 Christians, it is almost a year old since it was erected by His Excellency Bishop Dieudonné Uringi. The construction of the rectory in the parish is progressing well. Construction work on the bishopric continues and is progressing well.
Life seems to be going well after the presidential elections that took place in August 2017. There have been some changes in government. Many meetings in the socio-political framework take place in Kigali Convention Center. Many roads are paved in Nyamirambo and Kicyukiro districts, roads are widened in Kigali, schools and hospitals are built, people are encouraged in agriculture, transport and security in general.
De nouvelles constructions et quartiers continuent à pousser presque partout dans le pays mais aussi des anciennes maisons ou bâtiments sont détruits, soit qu’ils ne vont pas avec la vision 2020, soit qui ont été construits sans autorisation de bâtir validement donnée par l’autorité compétente.
Economically we feel that life continues to become more and more expensive even though we find many things on the spot. Many conditions and taxes are imposed even for small businesses; it is difficult for the small people to find what they need. Many are starting to leave Kigali for the countryside or other countries where they can do business without paying much tax. It seems that the city of Kigali is becoming more and more a city for the rich. In early 2018, the government closed around 700 churches that had no official papers and no facilities to meet and pray.
The Church of Rwanda dedicated this year to reconciliation and the diocese of Kigali, in its pastoral vision, has taken the option for children and young people because they are the future of the Church.
The Church has lost the Bishop of Cyangugu Diocese, Mgr Jean Damascène Bimenyimana, who died on 11 March 2018.
On March 24, 2018, the jubilee year of the 100th anniversary of the Benebikira Sisters, founded by our confrere Bishop Jean Joseph Hirth, began.
Saint Peter’s Parish is preparing to celebrate its 15th anniversary this June. The parish now has 14,000 baptized Catholic Christians and 25 CEB’s. For Justice and Peace, our parish is among the two parishes that have been chosen as models in the Archdiocese of Kigali. It takes the orientation of family and social cases, not political ones. So, with its limited means, the parish is doing what it can for Caritas.
The CML project (Centre Missionnaire Lavigerie) was presented to the town planning office of the city of Kigali for approval but it was not approved by saying that according to the plan of the Muhima sector in which our plot is located, this plot is reserved to make the Holy Family Garden, a public garden. But in December 2017, after a long dialogue with the civil authorities of the city, the Mayor and his vice, explaining that we are a missionary congregation (and not diocesans of the nearby Holy Family Parish), they asked us to write a letter of call asking for “the change of land use”. The letter was written and sent to the Mayor of the city on 10/12/2017. After this letter, the director with the one in charge of the technique at the city level, called us to tell us that it is necessary to review our project. It is a question of reducing the space to be built up to 10% and in the rest to make a garden for meditation. Thus, in the Rwanda sector, agreement was reached to remove all commercial buildings from the project in order to remain with the residence, the training centre and the chapel in the lower part as on the old project. The garden remains but is no longer public, it is for the Missionaries of Africa. Case to follow…
We are seeing a lull in political demonstrations. The population continues to suffer. Poverty (especially in outlying neighbourhoods) is still on the rise. The Congolese Franc has lost value and food prices are rising. A truce was marked until June in the marches organized by the Comité Laïc de Coordination (CLC). There is also a boiling point at the political party level with groupings and coalitions in preparation for the December 23 elections. There is an awakening of consciences about political life, of the population and also of young people. Some people have doubts about the actual organisation of elections.
Two forms of fraud are becoming a concern: the theft of computers and other electronic gadgets from small taxis and false accusations made by girls or women against generous drivers who give them a hand on the road.
The Church of Kinshasa received its coadjutor: Bishop Fridolin Ambongo, on Sunday 11 March 2018 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame du Congo. Two of the three Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese have been appointed titular bishops in two dioceses. The Church supported the three major marches organized by the Lay Coordinating Committee to demand the full implementation of the New Sylvester 2016 agreements. The three marches were banned and were violently repressed in the blood with loss of human life. Following the marches, a climate of insecurity had settled in Kinshasa with intimidation of Catholics, arrests of laity, priests and nuns, desecration of places of worship, stigmatization of the Catholic Church… The Cardinal went out several times from his reserve to condemn violence and encourage Christians during times of tension. At the Palm Sunday Mass at the stadium with the young people, he invited them to take responsibility for the crisis in the country. Some Protestant churches have supported the Catholic Church in its initiatives.
The diocese of Kisantu (diocese of insertion of the Philosophât) is in diocesan synod from 2 to 7 April 2018.
Insecurity and crime are on the rise. Weapons are found in some houses. In response, the governor decided on regular closures and more intensive controls, invited the population to denounce gun owners, promised rewards to inform motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are allowed to ride at night provided they report the bandits. The security situation has since calmed down. Poverty is increasing. It’s the struggle for survival. We live day by day. Bars are noticing a drop in consumption.
There is a proliferation of private schools at the expense of Catholic schools. The state refuses to approve new classes and does not pay teachers. The premiums for teachers introduced by the Church are running out of steam due to parents’ lack of capacity.
In higher education, the updated dollar rate is a source of student revolt. For the bishop, January and Februarywere two difficult months. Criticized in his position in relation to the march of December 31, 2017, escorted out of the cathedral, he is far from his people. “I am a traumatized person,” he said. The December 31 and January 21 marches were dispersed and forbidden. The Archdiocese of Bukavu has initiated a prayer chain for peace: each parish has its week of animation in turn.
The CDJP (Diocesan Committee for Justice and Peace) denounces injustices with its flash. He was attacked by the government, accused of provoking the uprising of the population. Tensions arise between the religious and the administration following the collection of property taxes.
The Ruzizi community has experienced more insecurity with the increase in thefts, a burglary at Father Raphaël Lubala’s home and another at Father Emmanuel Lengaigne’s home. As safety measures, a dog has been put on the side of the canoeists and there are plans to plant thorny sisals, put a grid, light at night. The community received the visit of the Superior General who was very open. The Provincial made a week-long visit which went well with many exchanges, including with the Christian community.
The DGM (General Direction for Migrations) built on the Ruzizi site. A file was prepared with the diocesan lawyer to file a complaint against this occupation of the land by the DGM.
The warlord of the Mayi Mayi Malaika Sheik Assani, led a movement to demand the exploitation of part of the mountain to the company “Maniema Gold”. The FARDC (DRC Armed Forces) were sent and a three-month war followed. The arrival of MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Congo) has been announced. The government imposes silence in the face of the war in the province. The director of radio OKAPI was arrested because he had spoken about the war in Maniema. Police officers, or even DGM, return to their stations.
The security crisis affected four parishes: Kabambare, Kibangula, Wamaza and Salamabila in Kabambare territory. The populations did not cultivate there following the war. And that caused a food crisis. The diocese of Kasongo is organizing a special quest in all parishes on May 27, 2018 to support these parishes.
Road degradation limits travel. When it rains, the road becomes more and more impassable. This reinforces the economic crisis. The items are very expensive and take a long time to arrive. Security’s not very good. The military presence, which should be a source of consolation and security, becomes a source of fear and insecurity: rape, exaggerated claims of money to passengers, etc.
In Kindu, the new governor is unable to work because he is not of the presidential majority. The province is affected by polio and cholera. Despite the government’s commitment, the population refuses to cooperate in the vaccination of children. Some are convinced that vaccinations kill their children.
On the social level, tribalism is very present: there are many oppositions when a leader is not from a particular ethnic tribe.
The diocese of Kindu welcomed two new priests on February 11, 2018. The diocese of Kasongo celebrated the priestly ordination of Father Marcel on 27 January 2018 in Kibangula when he had just lost a priest, Father Didace Fundi in Kinshasa.
Faced with the tribalism that exists in the diocese, the bishop continues to evangelize the faithful to accept themselves as brothers and sisters through his homilies, his pastoral letters: this is why he proposes as pastoral theme: “Every man is my brother, every woman is my sister”.