Congolese Bishop Leaves Synod Early

Church in His Diocese Burned, 2 Priests Abducted

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By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2009 ( As the assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops takes place in the Vatican, an archbishop from the continent is leaving early to face the very real «enemies of peace» plaguing his diocese.

Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, told the assembly Tuesday that while they were gathering in Rome to discuss the situation of the Church in Africa, a parish in his diocese was burnt down, his priests were attacked, and two were abducted and held for ransom.

Notably moved with emotion, the archbishop explained that the diocese had to pay the high ransom «to save the lives of our priests that they threatened to massacre.»

«Through these acts,» he noted, «it is the Church, remaining the only support for a terrorized, humiliated, exploited, dominated people, whom they would reduce to silence.»

Archbishop Rusengo, 53, decided to leave the synod after his address to return to his diocese and comfort those who were the victims of last Friday’s attack.

«Lord, may your will be done,» he concluded. «May your Kingdom of Peace arrive.»

The synod fathers were quick to express their solidarity with the archbishop. The president-delegate of the general congregation, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban, South Africa, spoke first to assure Archbishop Rusengo the prayers of all those gathered.

During the time set aside for spontaneous interventions, various prelates expressed their solidarity with the Diocese of Bukavu.

Violence is nothing new in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1996, Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa of Bukavu was shot in the head by Rwandan forces who had just overtaken the city.

The Second Congo War broke out two years later in the country. The war lasted until 2003, and it is estimated that up to 5.4 million died during the conflict.

Bukavu has a population of more than 1.7 million, 53.2% of whom are Catholics.

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