Congalese Bishop calls on authorities to end killings after latest slaughter

A Congolese bishop has made a fresh plea for the country’s leaders to stop the armed conflict following the massacre of around 150 people – including at least 80 Christians – by an Islamist rebel group earlier this month.

Denouncing the “serious and ongoing violations of human dignity” on Tuesday (18th June), Bishop Melchisedec Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni called on authorities to “put an end to the plight of the Congolese people”.

The terrorist group known as Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – which is affiliated with Daesh (ISIS) – carried out the killings in villages in North Kivu Province in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 4th and 8th June.

Media outlets reported that an online post by Daesh indicated that one of the attacks specifically targeted Christians.

In his statement, a copy of which was sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Paluku condemned the atrocities committed “against the peaceful population [which has been] left defenceless”.

According to the bishop the extremists “raped girls and women; kidnapped people of whom there is no trace today, and killed many others”.

He added that ADF militants torched homes, medical facilities, businesses and vehicles, forcing survivors to flee the area.

The bishop went on to call on “the authorities of the country to put an end to the calvary of the Congolese people, in general, and of the population of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni, in particular”.

He stressed that the ordeal “has lasted too long in this martyred region”.

Eastern DRC – a region rich in natural resources – has been plagued by violent incursions by rebel groups since the 1990s.

Bishop Paluku wrote that “with the mobilisation of all Congolese, good will triumph over evil, life will conquer death and the truth will ultimately destroy lies”.

He concluded: “Under the loving gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, I reiterate my compassion, my closeness and my communion with all.”

Pope Francis also condemned the massacres and reiterated his call to Congolese authorities and the international community to do “everything possible to end the violence and preserve the lives of civilians” during last Sunday’s (16th June) Angelus.

The pope highlighted that among the victims were “Christians killed “in odium fidei” – in hatred of the faith – who are therefore “martyrs”, whose “sacrifice is a seed that germinates and bears fruit, teaching us to bear witness to the Gospel with courage and consistency”.

Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need. Through prayer, information and action ACN is keeping the Faith alive in a troubled world. Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians.