VATICAN: Pope Appeals for Global Action to End Eastern DRC Conflict, Declares Christians Killed in ‘Odium Fidei’ Martyrs


VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2024 (CISA) — Pope Francis has called on both national and international actors to help bring peace and reconciliation to the conflict-ridden Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In his message after the Sunday Angelus on June 16, 2024, the Holy Father noted that the news of clashes and sporadic murders coming from Eastern DRC is disheartening and emphasized the need for dialogue and international cooperation to end the violence and alleviate the suffering of the Congolese people.

“Painful news continues to arrive of clashes and massacres in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I appeal to the national leaders and the international community to do everything possible to stop the violence and safeguard the lives of civilians,” appealed the pope.

The Holy Father decried the indiscriminate killing of the population in the area, the majority of Christians, whom he called Martyrs for being killed because of their faith.

“Among the victims, many are Christians killed in odium fidei meaning “in hatred of the faith”. They are martyrs. Their sacrifice is a seed that germinates and bears fruit, and teaches us to bear witness to the Gospel with courage and consistency,” declared the Supreme Pontiff.

On June 7, rebel fighters affiliated with ISIL (ISIS) killed at least 38 people in an overnight attack on villages in Beni territory, in North Kivu province.  The armed men used guns and machetes to attack residents of the villages, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

The war in DRC is primarily concentrated in the eastern regions of the country and has been plagued by decades of violence involving multiple armed groups, government forces, and foreign interventions. The instability is exacerbated by regional power struggles and the exploitation of Congo’s vast mineral resources, fueling violence and displacement.

According to news reports, local leaders believe the attacks are being carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is also accused of being behind another village assault that killed at least 16 people.

Reports detail that the ADF was originally based in neighbouring Uganda. After spreading to the eastern DRC, it pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2018 and has mounted frequent attacks, further destabilizing a region where many armed groups are active.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), since the beginning of 2024, nearly 358,000 people have been displaced in the DRC, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to around 7.1 million.