The DRC is a country of almost 87 million people bordered by the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. There are an estimated 35 million Catholics, making it the country with the sixth-largest Catholic population in the world.
Monsengwo led the archdiocese of Kinshasa from 2008 until his retirement in November 2018 at the age of 79. The archdiocese serves more than seven million Catholics.
On July 4, Ambongo had invited the faithful to accompany Monsengwo “with our prayers,” explaining that the cardinal’s “health is deteriorating and he is in a critical state,” reported ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.
The cardinal was flown to France for medical treatment days before his death.
Monsengwo was born in Mongobele on Oct. 7, 1939
Ordained a priest in 1963 and then a bishop in 1980, he served as auxiliary bishop of Inongo, auxiliary bishop of Kisangani, archbishop of Kisangani, and finally archbishop of Kinshasa.
In 1991, Monsengwo chaired the Sovereign National Conference, a body that created a framework for the country’s political transition from the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko, who had led the country since 1965.
While the process was interrupted by efforts to oust Mobutu, resulting in a protracted civil war, Monsengwo led the Church’s peacemaking efforts through negotiations, leading to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (2001-2003) that ultimately contributed to the end of civil strife.