Aid Agency Reaches Out to Congolese Soldiers

Says Victims Need Affirmation, Not Abortion

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GOMA, Congo, AUG. 25, 2009 ( A representative of Aid to the Church in Need is affirming that the Congolese victims and perpetrators of violence need affirmation of their dignity and worth, not abortion and contraception.

Christine du Coudray, head of the aid agency’s Africa desk, underlined the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who spoke against sexual violence in a recent visit to the Congo.

The aid worker stated that Clinton’s visit to the Kivu region in the east of the country “refocused the world’s attention on a region that had been, to an unbelievable extent, forgotten.”

A press release from the agency noted some 7,500 cases of rape and sexual violence in that region last year.

Although there are U.N. troops throughout the country, they often arrive too late, du Coudray explained.

She affirmed: “This is the recurring complaint of the ordinary Congolese people, who have again and again been victims of massacres, mass rape and bestial atrocities of every kind.

“For the rest of the time, in their ordinary daily lives, the people only have the Catholic Church to help them.”

In fact, the aid worker reported, families who take in refugees from war-torn areas are supported only by the Church, not by the United Nations.

Special forces

Ursuline Sister Espérance Hamuli stated that religious orders are among the forces of the Church who are aiding the Congolese people.

She stated, “We want to rescue the young people who are in danger of being wiped out, and we want to cry out still louder on behalf of those who have no voice, so that our people can know that there is a way out of their suffering, a way to life and not only of violence.”

Sister Hamuli is one of 37 superiors of religious congregations in the region who are working with Aid to the Church in Need in what du Coudray called “a kind of martyrdom.”

She explained that one nun told her: “We are in solidarity with the people. When they are tortured, we sisters are also tortured; if solidarity means dying with them, we die with them; if it means living with them, we live with them.”

The agency is working to reach out to children as well as to soldiers, to “promote respect for human life and dignity.”

Du Coudray affirmed, “In a region plagued by veritable orgies of violence, this kind of apostolate can truly save human lives.”

She stated that in the region, her agency is virtually alone in the commitment to build a “culture of life.”

The aid worker explained: “Many NGOs think they are helping by offering women abortions, the ‘morning-after pill’ and artificial contraceptives, but Africans see these ideas as alien to them.”

She added, “They understand at once that this is not a culture of life, but rather a culture of death.”

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