September 27, 2021

DR Congo: the influential Cardinal Monsengwo, Archbishop Emeritus of Kinshasa, is dead

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The influential Archbishop Emeritus of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, died Sunday, July 11 in Paris, at the age of 81, six days after his evacuation in ‘critical condition’, we learned from a religious source.

‘His Eminence Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, has the deep sorrow to announce to the Catholic Christian community and to all people of good will the death of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, this Sunday, July 11, 2021 in France (Versailles)’, Father Georges Njila, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, wrote in a statement.

‘Valiant soldier of Christ, rest in peace. While waiting for the official arrangements of the Chancellery of Kinshasa, we pray for the soul of our Archbishop Emeritus of Kinshasa ‘, wrote on Twitter Father Jean-Marie Konde, in charge of communication for the Archdiocese of Kinshasa.

Around 4:15 pm (3:15 pm GMT) the bells of Our Lady of the Congo Cathedral rang. A sacristan came to install the effigy of the deceased prelate at the altar as women, in tears, began flocking to the church grounds, an AFP reporter found.

With the episcopal conference and under the influence of Laurent Monsengwo, the Catholic Church played a major role in democratic openness during the last years of the dictatorship of the late President Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997).

A cardinal with political weight

MgrMonsengwo was one of the critical voices with regard to the various regimes which succeeded one another in DR Congo (ex-Zaire), that of the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001), Joseph Kabila (2001- 2019), then Félix Tshisekedi.

Ordained a priest in 1963, made a cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2010, this great figure of the African Catholic Church ceded his chair to the head of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa to MgrAmbongo in November 2018.

The Catholic Church in DR Congo, the only institution really present in the whole of the territory and which claims about 40% of the population, enjoys an audience on political and social questions that goes far beyond the circle of its faithful.