Murdered Priest Mourned in Congo

Man in Military Uniform Targeted Catholic Pastors

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KINSHASA, Congo, NOV. 15, 2010 ( Two men in military uniform in an eastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo were stopping motorcycles last week and asking them one question: «Are you a priest?» After getting an affirmative answer from Father Christian Mbusa Bakulene, one of the uniformed men shot the pastor dead.

The incident occurred Nov. 8 when Father Bakulene was returning to his Parish of St. John the Baptist in Kanyabayonga, in the province of North Kivu, carrying some Bibles that he had picked up from another parish in a neighboring village, Agenzia Fides reported.

The priest and a companion were traveling by motorcycle when the pair was stopped by two men in military uniform. When asked by one of the men, «Which of you is the priest?» Father Bakulene replied, «I am.» The gunman then took money from the companion before firing several shots, killing the priest. His companion was not harmed in the attack.

According to Fides, the incident has been determined to be a «targeted killing … to frighten priests working in the area,» and was disguised as a robbery that escalated into murder. Prior to the shooting, the uniformed men had stopped several other motorcyclists, asking each, «Are you a priest?»   

The incident, which took place near the Base of the Congolese Armed Forces, has stirred the region and prompted protests from locals, who have «long complained of the grave insecurity, linked to the fact that Congolese soldiers sent into the area are former rebels from the National Congress for the Defense of the People, integrated into the regular armed forces.»

Local authorities admit that incorporating the rebels into the military has allowed the insurgents to «continue to prey upon the population with impunity, wearing the uniforms of the national army.»  

Agenzia Fides reported that inhabitants of the territory of Lubero, where the murder took place, are demanding the withdrawal of the military from the area.

Christian Mbusa Bakulene was born in Munidiba-Maboya on Jan. 19, 1968. He was ordained Aug. 21, 1998, and appointed pastor of St. John the Baptist last September. The priest’s funeral took last Wednesday, and a day of mourning was declared in Kayna, a city near the site of the murder.

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