Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
“Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.”
The position of the Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is difficult, especially in the eastern part of the country, where war has been raging for decades over the coveted raw materials mines. The deeply damaging effects of these never-ending conflicts can also be felt in the north-western diocese of Basankusu.
For some time now, a structure has risen out of the surrounding countryside there and become a symbol of hope: a cathedral. Impressive, it stands tall and in its shadow a beautiful green countryside. Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting this project as it slowly has taken shape.
However, symbols of hope continue to rise in the middle of this state of affairs. With it, more than just a building has become visible and tangible to the local people. A Congolese saying goes, “Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.” As the cathedral begins to rise up out of the field, “this literally establishes the community of believers for the local people,” explains the bishop, Msgr Joseph Mokobe Niodoku. After all, this is where they can gather in prayer or for educational programs, for trade fairs and celebrations, on sunny and rainy days. “For them, the cathedral is a perpetual source of motivation carved in stone to do something for the common good.” It symbolises being a part of the large family of believers that stretches beyond national borders.”
And it is also a link to the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need from all over the world who have contributed to the funding of this cathedral. The new church represents the challenge “for Catholics in the Congo to become active in the Christian spirit for peace,” explains Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku. Which is why he describes the cathedral as the key. The inauguration of the church is planned for this spring.
Corruption, insecurity and terrible infrastructures
National elections are planned for late 2017. The ailing economy, marked by corruption and inefficiency. However, Bishop Mokobe reports that the preparations for these are stagnating; the round tables at which the church had repeatedly championed peace talks and the reformation of the bitterly divided camps that make up Congolese society have ceased to take place.
The exploitation of natural resources and its devastating impact on the people remains unresolved. One of the main demands of the church has therefore become “to hold the upcoming elections”.
An example of a difficult situation in the country: the infrastructure. It is in a very bad state of repair in many places if not hardly existent. This means that when Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku and his collaborators cannot go out to visit the parishes in his diocese of 77,000 square kilometres. Often they can only travel by canoe on the rivers because the streets are impassable. It takes him more than two days to travel about 300 kilometers!
Story by ACN International
Adapted by, Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canada