Cardinal of Congo unexpectedly called to the House of the Father

.- Cardinal Federic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), who had been in Brussels to receive medical treatment passed away on Sunday.

Cardinal Etsou, one of the most outspoken Catholic leaders in Africa, studied in the Minor Seminary of Bolongo (Lisala) and later attended the Major Seminary of Kabwe, where he completed his first cycle of Philosophy (1949-1953) and a year of theology (1953-1954).

He then entered the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (C.I.C.M.) and was ordained a priest on July 13, 1958. As a priest, he worked as a vicar in two parishes of Kinshasa: Saint Francis (Kintambo) and Saint Peter’s (Kinshasa).

Years later his Congregation sent him to study Sociology at the Catholic Institute of Paris (France) and Pastoral Theology at the "Lumen Vitae" center in Brussels (Belgium).

After completing his studies in 1968, he returned to Kinshasa, where he was named Pastor of the Parish of Saint Peter and - at the same time - vice-provincial of his Congregation.  On July 8, 1976 he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Mbandaka, where he became Archbishop one year later.  July 7, 1990 he was named Archbishop of Kinshasa.  A year later, in 1991, Pope John Paul II named him a Cardinal.

Since July of 2000 the Cardinal had presided over the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Today, Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence to Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mayi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Kinshasa.  "I pray to the Father of Mercy," wrote the Holy Father in his telegram, "to welcome in the light and peace of His Kingdom this pastor who consecrated his life with enthusiasm and abnegation to the service of Christ and His Church, in particular in the archdiocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro and in that of Kinshasa. I give thanks for the ministry of this eminent son of Africa, who was also president of the episcopal conference and who dedicated himself to announcing the Gospel, and to the service and promotion of the peoples of that continent."

With the departure of Cardinal Etsou the College of Cardinals will be made up of 185 members; and on Tuesday, when Cardinal Adolfo Suarez Rivera turns 80 years old, the number eligible to vote in a Papal conclave will be reduced to 110.

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