DRC: Preparations for Third National Eucharistic Congress are on, Archbishop Says Despite Tensions

By Arnold Neliba

LUBUMBASHI, APRIL 25, 2023 (CISA)-As Lubumbashi prepares to host the Third National Eucharistic Congress of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from June 4 to 11, Archbishop Fulgence Muteba has revealed that plans are underway to ensure the success of the congress despite the political and security tensions being witnessed in the region.

“The tension is noticeable, especially in the big cities. On the political level, there is a lot of frustration, particularly following the appointment of new leaders in the territory, the difficult and hasty registration of voters, harassment against certain candidates in the next elections, intimidation and political manipulation,” the archbishop of Lubumbashi said in a press interview.

The archbishop said that in terms of security; burglaries, night attacks, killings, rapes, extortion, and other similar scourges have “reached proportions that exceed the tolerable threshold”.

“The city of Lubumbashi has become the epicentre of unprecedented violence, never known in history. Admittedly, barriers are erected on certain roads by agents responsible for the safety of the inhabitants from the early hours of the night, but the insecurity does not diminish for all that,” he bemoaned.

Lubumbashi is the second largest city and the mining capital of the DRC, acting as a hub for many of the country’s biggest mining companies. Incursions by the Bataka-Katanga, fighting for the region to secede from DRC, occur frequently in Lubumbashi.

According to Archbishop Muteba, the inter-ethnic conflict is deeply rooted in the history between the people of Kassaïan origin and those native to Katanga, and the economic situation that continue to complicate issues for the region.

In the interview with Lacroix Africa, he mentions “the rise in the price of flour, persistent rumours about corruption and scandalous embezzlements in the mining sector are adding water to the mill of political tension and insecurity.”

The cathedral of Lubumbashi is among the institutions that have been at the centre of the security threats and on February 23, an armed group invaded the cathedral compound.

“We received promises from certain authorities attesting that the investigations were going to be carried out. Unfortunately, so far, nothing concrete. With my collaborators, we are fighting against the trauma, conscious or not, that this incursion has caused us. Of course, we have reinforced certain security mechanisms, but that is nothing in the face of the fury of unscrupulous armed men,” he says.

Despite these challenges, Archbishop Muteba said the preparations have been on since the announcement of Lubumbashi as the host city.

“We were very encouraged by the Holy Father who appointed Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to represent him at this event. We must admit that this good news has reassured the few sceptics who, following two postponements beyond our control, no longer believed in the effective holding of this important gathering on the mystery of the Eucharist,” he says.

Originally scheduled for June 2020, the Eucharistic Congress had been postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be DRC’s Third National Eucharistic Congress. The first was held in Kisantu in 1933 and the second congress in 1980, was held in the country’s capital, Kinshasa.