Submit this form
Home News Videos Music Photos Facebook Twitter Friends Newsletter Podcasts Mobile RSS
Congolese Mourn Politically-Charged Cardinal

VOA News - January 12, 2007

Citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo are mourning the death of Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, the country's top Roman Catholic prelate. Cardinal Etsou died on January 6 of pneumonia in Belgium. As his body was returned for a scheduled burial in the Congo on Monday, mourners remembered him as a religious and political leader. Kari Barber has this report from our West Africa regional bureau.

Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi (file photo)
Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi (file photo)
Seventy-six-year-old Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi is being remembered not only for his religious work as head of Congo's Roman Catholic Church, but also for the positions he took on political matters.

Last year, Cardinal Etsou raised concerns about Congo's first democratic elections in almost 50 years. He endorsed opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba's claims that international forces were seeking to ensure the victory of the interim president, Joseph Kabila, who was eventually declared the winner.

In an interview with Radio France Internationale last November, he said any international interference would be a "grave act of irresponsibility" that would undermine the prestige of the West.

Cardinal Estou held a unique position of power because the Catholic church is a powerful institution in Congo. About half of Congo's 63 million people are Catholic, and Catholic schools and clinics have stepped in where the state has faltered.

In the capital Kinshasa, many mourners attending prayer services talked about the role the cardinal played in Congo.

"He was not too critical," said one mourner. "He was not too close to the government. But he was following, as everyone else, everything that was happening in the Congo."

"He took part in the leading of the country," said a second mourner. "Sometimes there can be fires, but he played the role of an extinguisher with his morality - intervening in some way."

"I can only pray to God that he receives him, his soul, to heaven. Because I knew him as a very peaceful person and somebody who loved everyone," said another mourner.

In 1990, Cardinal Etsou took charge of Congo's Catholic Church in the final years of the rule of the longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. He became an important force denouncing the civil war that ousted Mobutu and later attempted to reconcile the country.

After Mobutu was overthrown in 1997, Cardinal Etsou spoke out against what he described as the strong-arm tactics of the new leader and former rebel Laurent Kabila.

Newly elected Congolese President Joseph Kabila has proclaimed a day of national mourning for Etsou's burial, which is expected to take place on Monday.

Related articles

  1. Felix Tshisekedi Sworn In as DR Congo President (January 24, 2019)
  2. Constitutional Court Declares Tshisekedi Winner of Presidential Election (January 19, 2019)
  3. Felix Tshisekedi Vows to Be the President of All Congolese (January 10, 2019)
  4. Felix Tshisekedi Elected DR Congo President (January 10, 2019)
  5. DR Congo Delays Results of December Election (January 6, 2019)
  6. Botswana Urges Joseph Kabila to Step Down (February 26, 2018)
  7. No elections in DR Congo in December without electronic voting machines: INEC (February 13, 2018)
  8. US Warns DR Congo Against Electronic Voting for Delayed Election (February 12, 2018)
  9. Felix Tshisekedi accuses INEC of illegally prolonging Kabila's mandate (October 24, 2017)
  10. DRC Seeks Arrest of Presidential Candidate Moise Katumbi (May 19, 2016)
  11. Papa Wemba Is Buried in Kinshasa (May 4, 2016)
  12. Papa Wemba Awarded Highest National Honor as Thousands Pay Tribute (May 2, 2016)
  13. Rights Groups: DR Congo Must Free Pro-democracy Activists (April 13, 2015)
  14. Police Open Fire on Crowd Protesting Election Law Change (January 19, 2015)
  15. Etienne Tshisekedi Evacuated to Belgium for Medical Treatment (August 16, 2014)
  16. Kerry Calls on Kabila to Honor Constitution (May 4, 2014)
  17. Kerry in DR Congo for Security Talks (May 3, 2014)
  18. DR Congo Takes Chairmanship of COMESA at Summit in Kinshasa (February 26, 2014)
  19. DR Congo Honors Nelson Mandela, Hero and Model for Humanity (December 6, 2013)
  20. Kabila Congratulates Congo Army for Defeating M23 Rebels (October 30, 2013)
  21. DR Congo Eases Process for Starting a New Business (June 3, 2013)
  22. Regional Leaders Sign DR Congo Peace Deal (February 24, 2013)
  23. The M23 Rebels Want to Overthrow Kabila? Nonsense (November 28, 2012)
  24. Protests Against M23 Rebels, Government and UN Spread (November 22, 2012)
  25. Thousands Protest M23 Capture of Goma, Turn on Government and UN (November 21, 2012)
  26. DR Congo Officials Vow to Defend Goma Against M23 Rebels (November 19, 2012)
  27. At high-level meeting, Ban urges political solution to crisis in eastern DR Congo (September 27, 2012)
  28. US Cuts Military Aid to Rwanda Over Support to Rebels in DR Congo (July 21, 2012)
  29. DR Congo, Rwanda Sign Pact to Fight Rebels in Eastern Congo (July 15, 2012)
  30. Police Investigate Former Prime Minister for Corruption (May 14, 2012)

Live TV Congo Radio en ligne Radio
Available on App Store
Get it on Google Play

Contact Us | About Us | Édition en Français | French Edition

© All rights reserved.