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Declaration of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO)

04/11/2008: Dem. Rep. of the Congo

1. The National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) is deeply worried by the resumption of hostilities in the East and Northeast of DR Congo. These hostilities once again spread desolation and grief in the country. The consequences are enormous: again thousands dead, populations condemned to wandering in inhuman conditions, the kidnapping of children and their enforced conscription in armed groups, etc. In brief, a veritable humanitarian drama is unfolding before our eyes and no one can remain indifferent. We ask ourselves: Why this resumption of hostilities when some significant advancements have been made with the signing of the Act of Commitment of Goma? Until when must our land continue to quench its thirst with the blood of its sons and daughters?

2. CENCO vehemently condemns this ignoble way of considering war as a means to resolve problems or assuage unspoken ambitions. It denounces all the crimes committed toward peaceful citizens and condemns, moreover, in the most absolute way, the recruitment of children for the purpose of forcefully involving them in the hostilities. It firmly disapproves of the taking hostage of the civil population and its use as a human shield.

3. CENCO fears that these recurring wars in the region of the East and Northeast will become a screen to cover up the plundering of natural resources. For there are riches where they are fighting that they exploit and would like to continue to illegally exploit. It equally fears that these wars are only a way, thinly disguised, of concretizing the plan of balkanization of the country by the creation of “miniature States.” The National Episcopal Conference of the Congo will never stop reminding enough that the territorial integrity, the inviolability of boarders and the national unity of RD Congo are not negotiable.

4. Also CENCO calls the attention of the relevant Institutions of our country to the gravity of these wars and their consequences for the unity of the country and the future of the nation. It earnestly invites the new Prime Minister as well as the Government that he forms to treat without leniency this issue. It exhorts them to consider as the priority of priorities the urgent task of the total reestablishment of peace in the country and of the safeguard of its unity by the constitution of a republican army to protect its boarders and its population. They will take to heart the work of restoring the authority of the State, to insure respect of the Institutions from the elections and the Act of Commitment of Goma. The people will judge those who govern them on their capacity to give a pertinent and definitive response to these great challenges

5. CENCO thanks the International Community for its almost unanimous condemnation of the rebellions. Beyond this condemnation, it invites it to take effective and efficient measures and – it has the means – to oblige the armed bands to respect the acts of agreement to which they have subscribed. In this way, it will dissuade every impulse of attack on the integrity of our national territory. All the powers, the multinationals, the Great Lakes, etc., in brief, the entire world will win with a Congo in peace rather than a Congo at war

6. CENCO remains at the service of the promotion of peace but it is convinced that there is no peace without justice. Impunity encourages new insurrectional attacks. Peace, in effect, is not simply the absence of war nor even a stable equilibrium between adversarial forces, but it is founded on a correct conception of the human person and requires the enlightenment of a social order in accordance with justice and charity. It is the sense of the peace that Christ left his disciples: “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you” (Jn 14, 27). It is also the sense of the call that the Holy Father Benedict XVI put out in favor of North Kivu at the Angelus on Sunday, 12 October 2008.
7. The National Episcopal Conference of the Congo hopes that this call to peace will be heard by all so that the population of RD Congo all together leads a calm and peaceful existence. The people of God, the men and women of good will, the sister Churches and the charitable organizations are invited to show themselves more in solidarity and more sympathetic to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, victims of these wars.

8. May the Lord inspire the thoughts and actions of all for the victory of peace and the commitment in the work of rebuilding a Congo of justice and fraternity.

Given at Kinshasa, 13 October 2008.

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