Sister Francine, abducted July 8 in Goma, eastern Democratic Province of Congo (DRC), is finally free. This announcement was made by her religious community, the Daughters of the Resurrection, to the international pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
What We Know
Thursday, July 8, after a visit to the local market of Goma, Sister Francine did not return as expected. A short time later, her kidnappers contacted local Church officials. Sister Francine was released, is physically unharmed, but traumatized. The community did not disclose further details about the circumstances of the kidnapping or her quick release.
“Kidnappings as a Means of Pressure”
Kivu province in DRC, bordering Rwanda with the great Lake Kivu has been plagued by radical Islamist militias and criminal gangs for years. At great risk is the onset of ethnic conflicts and the appropriation of natural resources. Frequent abductions in this area are often the means to which these militias attempt to achieve their ends.
“We are very pleased that Sister Francine is back safe and sound with her community,” said Regina Lynch, project director for ACN. “Unfortunately, we are finding that kidnappings, especially of priests and religious, have become a weapon and a means of pressure in numerous African countries.”
A trail of abductions stretches from Mali to Nigeria to Congo and beyond, Lynch said, “Many priests and religious, such as Gloria Cecilia Narvaez in Mali, often go missing for years. Other church members do not survive the abductions. The kidnappers achieve their goal: to increase fear and terror among the population. This is a very worrying development.”
ACN supports a number of projects in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, providing funding for the building of rectories and churches as well as priestly formation programs. The Daughters of the Resurrection, an order of African Sisters has been hard-hit by violence in the past decade; a number of convents were forced to close, and several Sisters were killed. Today, the Daughters of the Resurrection are in Brazil, Cameroon, France and Italy on a mission of evangelization.