Democratic Republic of Congo
“An abominable, abhorrent and infernal act”
Antonia von Alten, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
ACN, Montreal / Königstein – March 18, 2015: The Bishop of Goma, Théophile Kaboy, condemned in the strongest terms the murder of a priest on February 25, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was an “abominable, abhorrent and infernal act,” he wrote in a note to the apostolic nunciature in the capital Kinshasa, which the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has in its possession. Father Jean-Paul Kakule, treasurer of the parish of Mweso (Goma diocese), was shot dead on February 25 with a machine gun by an unknown assassin as he was closing the church doors in the evening.
Father Jean-Paul Kakule (33) is the oldest child of a large Christian family from North Kivu. In 2003 he was consecrated as a priest and had since performed his priestly duties in the parish of Mweso. According to the Bishop of Goma, Jean is the tenth priest to be murdered in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1992. Five sisters of the Congregation of Saint Vincent de Paul disappeared in 1996. There is no trace of them.
What is not clear is whether the murder of Father Jean Paul Kakule is due to common criminality or religious hatred. In the opinion of the Bishop of Goma, the mere presence of clerics in the area of Mweso is a major source of irritation for criminals. The Bishop therefore suspects that the murder of Father Kakule was an act of revenge. The Catholic parish has gained a reputation as an institution which shows crime up for what it is.
Time and again terrorists massacre defenseless villagers. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run. The population in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo feels extremely insecure, according to Bishop Théophile Kaboy. “Criminal gangs can go about their evil business unhindered because there is no police presence.” The Bishop therefore appeals to those responsible on a national and international level to ensure that there is at last justice and peace in the region.
In its current report “Religious Freedom in the World,” Aid to the Church in Need reports about 20 different armed groups marauding in the east of the country. According to the report, three Assumptionist priests were abducted from their parish in Beni (North Kivu) at the end of 2012 – probably by militias of the ADF-NALU, a Ugandan rebel group which is known for its radical Islamist leanings.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is six times the size of Germany and has a population of 65 million. Of these about 96 per cent are Christians (47 per cent Catholics, 49 per cent Protestants).