Thousands Mourn Death of Missionary in Congo

Nuncio Says He Gave «Life Out of Love»

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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo, SEPT. 16, 2005 ( The Franciscan missionary recently lynched by a mob, gave up his life «out of love,» said the apostolic nuncio in the Republic of Congo.

Italian Father Angelo Redaelli, 40, was stabbed to death with machetes on Monday by the relatives of a 3-year-old child whom he had accidentally killed with his car in the Obuye region, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Brazzaville.

Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso presided at the funeral Mass on Wednesday, accompanied by bishops of the episcopal conference, and thousands of people — among them many local residents, men and women religious, parish movements and confraternities — who crowded into the Brazzaville Cathedral, reported the Missionary Service News Agency.

A message from the Vatican was read at the beginning of the liturgy.

Father Francesco Bravi, vicar general of the Franciscans, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire that the murdered priest, who was driving a Land Rover, «saw a car parked on the side of the road, perhaps due to an accident, and reduced his speed.»

When he passed it, he said, «the little girl suddenly appeared,» and he was unable to avoid hitting her.

The priest stopped immediately and got out, as did his passengers — five Congolese religious and three Poor Clare sisters — but nothing could be done to rescue the child.


Relatives and others from the region attacked and killed the Franciscan who was driving the vehicle, and his companions had no other option than to flee into the forest.

Father Ernesto Brezza, of the Lombard province of the Franciscans, told the Fides news agency that his death is «due to a tragic circumstance, and is not at all a hostile act against the missionaries.»

Father Giulio Albanese, a Comboni priest and journalist, commented on Vatican Radio: «It must be remembered that aggressions in such circumstances are very frequent in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.»

He said that after an accident, it is best to not stop, and to go directly to the police station, due to the general «lack of trust» that people have in local justice.

Father Bravi explained on Vatican Radio that Father Angelo did stop, although his companions «urged him to go immediately to the police, fearing what then, unfortunately, happened.»

«Father Angelo decided to stay, I think because at that moment, his conscience, his dimension of brother and missionary, did not allow for anything else,» said the vicar general.

Love and justice

In his homily at the funeral mass, Archbishop Carrascosa said that «it was out of love that he decided to stop and help the little girl, and out of love that he gave his life.»

«Justice must follow its course and the law its teaching action, but, in the end, there is need of education and formation in human and spiritual values that spring directly from the Gospel,» said the apostolic nuncio.

Also present at the funeral were Congolese government officials Paul Bot, minister of security; François Ibovi, minister of the interior; Jean-François Ndengue, director general of the police; and Daniel Ouassa, an official of the Foreign Ministry.

Father Angelo Redaelli, who had spent two years in the parish of Makua, in the Diocese of Owando, and in a center of the capital of Brazzaville for street children, will be buried in Turate, Italy.

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