The bishops called on African leaders “not to work for their own interests, but for the good of all,” at the general assembly of African bishops' conferences held this week in Kinshasa.
They also called on political leaders to “put an end to the war that has bloodied the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The bishops’ criticisms particularly focused on the M23 rebellion, focused in the North Kivu province, which borders both Rwanda and Uganda. The rebellion is an extension of the Second Congo War, which formally ended 10 years ago.
The area has witnessed many violent deaths, massacres and rapes. Over six million people have been killed there in the last 20 years. Hundreds of thousands of Congolese have been internally displaced or become refugees because of the conflict.
The Congolese bishops especially appealed to the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union to help end the conflict, Fides news agency reports.
The African bishops’ general assembly agreed on the need for their home countries to encourage their national leaders to “work for lasting peace.”
Africa’s bishops also adopted new policies encouraging the bishops’ conferences of individual countries to identify the need for “specific interventions, empowering everyone involved,” Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, in Angola, told Fides.
Bishop Louis Portella Mbuyu of Kinkala, in the Republic of the Congo, said that Africa needs a “good Samaritan” in politics who can think about how society is organized, to ensure that “the common good is the priority.”
Speaking in the homily of the general assembly’s closing Mass, he said that securing the common good means political and economic leaders “have to manage the wealth and power not for themselves, but for their brothers and sisters, with the pride to bring well-being to everyone.”
The general assembly’s final message called on all Africans to “urgently commit” to working for a fair social order “where everyone can enjoy the rights associated with their human dignity.”
The M23 rebellion began in April, 2012, when a group of largely Tutsi soldiers defected from the Congolese army. The United Nations is deploying a 3,000-soldier intervention force to counter the M23 group, which is fighting in part for control over the mineral-rich territory.
In a show of solidarity with those suffering in North Kivu, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines wrote a letter this May voicing support for a federal regulation that would block American investment from supporting militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“We send our ongoing prayers as innocent people in your country suffer and die at the hands of militias who control illegal mines, divide up your country and eliminate the rule of law,” Bishop Pates wrote to Bishop Nicholas Djoma Lola of Tshumbe.
At a meeting of African bishops, those of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have urged an end to the armed conflicts in their country, calling on all parties to “work actively for peace.”
DRC, M23, Rebellion