Church Pleads for Help for Congolese Rape Victims

Christians Unite to Urge End to Violence

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KINSHASA, Congo, JULY 20, 2009 ( The archbishop of Kinshasa and the secretary-general of the World Council of Churches are reiterating a call to end the cycle of violence that has resulted in thousands of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During an ecumenical gathering held in Kinshasa, Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya and Samuel Kobia urged the government and society to bring a halt to violence against women as a weapon of war.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Pasinya noted how «the Christian faith condemns violence, whatever its origin, because it participates in the evil of those things that directly provoke death.»

«Violence against women,» he continued, «contradicts the original harmony desired by God for man and woman.»

And the archbishop declared that the cycle of rape is particularly opposed to the African culture, «in which the woman is considered as a mother and her mission is highly exalted in society because the mother is the fount of life. This violence thus denotes a barbarity that is foreign to the Christian vision and African wisdom.»

Archbishop Pasinya affirmed that «it is key for government forces, civil society, organizations for the defense of human rights, and religious groups to mobilize.»

Kobia seconded the prelate’s exhortation, adding that the first step is «recognizing that this violence really exists.»

«We have heard stories of women with children who have not only suffered from poverty but who have also paid with their lives for the egotism of violent men,» he said. «And while these stories ring in our ears and their sorrow makes our hearts bleed, we see that there is still myopia and maybe even complete blindness in our communities in recognizing this violence.»

In the Archdiocese of Bukavu, a report from the Justice and Peace Commission echoed Kobia’s evaluation of the problem.

«This is a matter of an unimaginable barbarity about which we must speak because sometimes there is more fear of the silence of good people than the barbarism of the evil ones,» the report affirmed. «Violence against women is considered a way to inflict death on an entire community. It is a way to strike the very heart of a community.»

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