Looters Murder Priest in Congo

Shot Belgian Jesuit in Car

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KINSHASA, Congo, MAY 9, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A Belgian Jesuit priest was shot and killed by looters in the Congo, confirmed the Society of Jesus and the Belgian Embassy.

Father René de Haes, 71, was driving to his home in Kinshasa Saturday around 8 p.m. He was stopped in Kindele, to the North of Kinshasa, by men, dressed in military uniform, looting a grocery store.

Witnesses saw two of the looters talking with the priest, who then shot him five times. The assailants took his bag and fled, said the Congo police.

The missionary was taken to the university hospital, and he died around 9 p.m.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” said Father Bafuidinsoni Maloko-Mana, provincial of the Society of Jesus.

“It all seems to point to a criminal act, not a political action,” said a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry in Belgium, reported Fides news agency.

With the attack on Father De Haes, the number of murders this year rises to 12 in the Kindele area, in the town of Mont Ngafula.

Father de Haes was rector of the St. Peter Canisius International Center of Studies in Kimwenza, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Kinshasa.

From 1975 to 1986, he was a professor at the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Kinshasa, and from 1986 to 1994, the faculty’s dean. He also served the school as director of the theology department and secretary-general.

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