The Politics of Congo’s Religious Leaders

 

With Seating for 7500, the Protestant Centennial Cathedral Was Dedicated in 1994
With Seating for 7500, the Protestant Centennial Cathedral Was Dedicated in 1994

The leaders of the two largest Church bodies in Congo “talked politics” to their faithful in Easter Sunday sermons according to Radio Okapi.  Cardinal Monsengwo, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kinshasa, and Monsignor Pierre Marini Bodho, President of the Church of Christ of Congo, delivered messages that were “both religious and political to their faithful” in the view of the media outlet with the largest audience in the country.

An outspoken critic of the conduct and announced results of the November election, Archbishop Monsengwo emphasized on Easter Sunday that “society as a whole is charged with creating a culture upholding human dignity and free of repression and any violation of human rights”.  For his Easter sermon, the leader of the Church of Christ of Congo (ECC), made up of 72 Protestant “communions”, Mgr. Marini Bodho chose to highlight the role of Mary Magdalene in the resurrection account.  The Protestants’ leader, who has served since 1998, declared that when a society has a problem, “God can also use the weak and leave the wise on the sidelines”.

In a city charged with political tensions, the two Christian leaders have taken opposing positions on the outcome of the November election. Archbishop Monsengwo was widely quoted as saying that the official results did not conform either to “the truth or to justice”.  Responding to the Archbishop’s statement, Mgr. Marini Bodho declared that the election indicated the Congolese people had placed their confidence in President Joseph Kabila Kabange.  In an interview with French radio, the Protestant leader went on to warn against holding positions which threaten the “social fabric” and impede the President’s overcoming of the challenges to the development process in the Congo.

While Protestants have grown in numbers considerably since the fall of the Mobutu regime, they remain in the minority in the former Belgian colony. An estimated 35 % of the population worship in Protestant, including Kimbanguist, churches.  The 50 % of the Congo population who are Roman Catholic trace the Church’s roots in Congo back to the 1506 conversion of King Afonso I, ruler of the Kongo Kingdom.

Mgr. Marini Bodho succeeded the Disciple pastor Itofo Bokambanza Bokeleale who presided over the Church of Christ of Congo from 1968 to 1998.  As representatives of the minority religion during Belgian colonial days and up to the present,

74 Year Old ECC President Mgr. Pierre Marini Bodho Served as President of the Congo Senate 2003-2006
74 Year Old ECC President Mgr. Pierre Marini Bodho Served as President of the Congo Senate 2003-2006

theleaders of the Church of Christ of Congo have supported the post independence political regimes.  The Protestant Cathedral in Kinshasa was built next to the Palais du Peuple, the present day parliament building.  There is no more dramatic evidence of Mgr. Bokeleale’s ties to the Mobutu regime than the location of the Protestants’ national cathedral on the Avenue Triomphale. In the next blog we will take another look at the position vis a vis the State of the ECC leadership and the possible future costs and consequences of their current support for authoritarian rule in Congo.

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2 thoughts on “The Politics of Congo’s Religious Leaders

  1. http://Creativesparkinteractive.com

    How long did it acquire u to publish “The Politics of
    Congos Religious Leaders Lokoleyacongo”? It features plenty of
    very good material. Many thanks Guillermo

    Like

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