Education Is Way to Peace in Congo, Says Pope

Offers Prayer for Abused Women and Children

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The promotion of education is the way to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Benedict XVI while meeting with that country’s new ambassador to the Holy See.

Today the Pope met with Jean Pierre Hamuli Mupenda, acknowledging that “after so many years of suffering” the Democratic Republic of the Congo “has a need to be committed in a resolute way on the path of national reconciliation.”

The Pontiff asserted that “one of the best means to accomplish this is to promote the education of the young generations.”

“The spirit of reconciliation and peace, born in the family, is affirmed and extended in the school and university,” he said.

The Holy Father noted that even if the Congolese desire a good education for their children, “the weight of direct financing by the families is great and quite unsustainable for many.”

He expressed the hope “that a just solution can be found,” adding that by “helping parents economically and ensuring the regular financing of educators, the state will make a profitable investment for all.”

“It is essential that children and young people are educated with patience and tenacity,” Benedict XVI said, “above all those who have been deprived of education and trained to kill.”

Spiritual bases

He continued, “It is appropriate to inculcate in them learning that will sustain them in their future adult and professional lives, but also to give them moral and spiritual bases that will help them to reject the temptation to violence and resentment and to choose that which is just and true.”

The Pope affirmed that the Church can help the civil authorities in this task “through its educational structures and according to its possibilities.”

He acknowledged that the presence of a diplomat in the Congolese embassy, “after long years of a vacant seat,” shows “the desire of the head of state and government to reinforce relations with the Holy See.”

Observing that this decision comes in the context of “the 50th anniversary of the independence of your homeland,” the Pontiff expressed the hope that this jubilee will “allow the nation to start again on new bases.”

The country has lived “particularly difficult and tragic moments” in these years, he said, in which “violence, blind and merciless, fell on a large part of the population, subduing it under its brutal and unsustainable yoke.”

“I am thinking in particular of women, of young people and children, whose dignity was derided continually through the violation of their rights,” the Holy Father stated, adding that he wished to assure them of his “solicitude” and “prayer.”

He affirmed that the Catholic Church, “wounded in many of its members and in its structures,” “wishes to foster interior healing and fraternity.”

Benedict XVI continued: “It would now be appropriate to employ all political and human means to put an end to suffering. Likewise, it would be appropriate to repair and render justice, as the words of justice and peace invite, written in the national motto.”

To this end, he stressed the importance of reconstructing “the social fabric so gravely damaged, encouraging the first natural society, which is the family, and consolidating interpersonal relations between Congolese founded on an integral education, a source of peace and justice.”

In the same way, the Pope called on public authorities “to not neglect to put an end to the situation of war that, unfortunately, still persists in some provinces of the country, and to dedicate themselves to the human and social reconstruction of the nation in respect of fundamental human rights.”

“Peace does not just mean total absence of conflicts,” he said, “but is also a task that commits the citizens and the state” and cannot be realized other than “through a human response in harmony with the divine plan.”

Principles

In his greeting to the Pontiff, the new ambassador mentioned that close to half of the 60 million Congolese are Catholics, “so it can be affirmed that the most important Catholic community in Africa is found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

“Because of this the government of my country, its people and also its leaders continue to count on the support and cooperation of the Holy See to perpetuate the conquests of the work of Catholic missionaries in the process of civilization and evangelization of the people of Africa, and especially of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Mupenda added, as reported by L’Osservatore Romano.

The Congo, he said, intends to work to uphold the principles of “good neighborhood, openness to the world without exclusions, international cooperation, mutually advantageous sub-regional or regional cooperation, peaceful resolution of controversies, peaceful coexistence between different nations, and respect of borders inherited from colonization.”

The envoy continued: “The Democratic Republic of the Congo counts on applying these principles without hesitations in order to guarantee peace in the sub-region of the Great Lakes. Once peace is restored, one can then think of development.”

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