Courage and Truth (see. II Corinthians 7, 14)
Message of the extraordinary plenary assembly of the CENCO to the Catholics and to the Congolese people.
1. May God bless the people of the Congo. May God be good and full of grace. May God manifest his goodness and grant the Congolese people with peace ! (see. Numbers 6, 24-26).
2.We, the Cardinal, Archbishops and Bishops, members of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) have come together in an extraordinary plenary session in Kinshasa from January 9 to 11, 2012, and we have analyzed the observation report conducted by our Church regarding the elections.
In a spirit of prayer and faith in the future of our country, we address this message to the Catholics and to the Congolese people in order to learn the lessons from the current electoral process.
Achievements of the election process
3.We welcome the determination, maturity and civism of our people, who, in November 2011 went to the polls in difficult conditions in order to designate sovereign rulers. We congratulate our government for being able to largely finance the elections, which proves that we can succeed in building our country if we put resources and goodwill.
We acknowledge the logistical efforts of the INEC to deploy electoral material despite the challenges and the poor infrastructures of our vast country. We also congratulate all the electoral observers and witnesses who have made many sacrifices to perform their duty.
4. However, the result of this work has disappointed many Congolese. In our message called “Election year: what should we do?” (Ac 2, 37) published on February 25,, 2011, we said we wanted the elections to be transparent, truthful and peaceful , so that Congo can be part of the respectable and dignified nations of the world. . In the message of December 3rd, 2011, the CENCO reaffirmed that our goal was not to publish the results and that its observation mission encouraged the Congolese people, the political actors, and the INEC to rely on the election results. On December 8, 2011, the General Secretariat of the CENCO highlighted the positive aspects of the election process, as well as its serious irregularities and weaknesses. This is why, on December 12, 2011, the Cardinal Archbishop of Kinshasa issued a statement denouncing the non-conformity to truth and justice of the provisional results released by the INEC.
5. Today, it is clear that, according to the final report of the Election Observation Mission of the CENCO and testimonies gathered by the various dioceses and other sources, that the electoral process took place in a chaotic environment. There are many failures, cases of proven and planned fraud, fatal incidents, deaths, and a climate of terror in order to force people to fill the ballot boxes. There is more. What is now happening in the compilation of the legislative election results is unacceptable. It is a shame for our country.
6. We believe the election process was marked by serious flaws that question the credibility of the election results. We call upon the organizers to demonstrate courage, honesty and accept the consequences. We believe recognizing one’s own mistake is a sign of greatness. However, if politicians take the risk of governing the country by challenge, the internal tensions that are controllable on the short term will result in a serious and inextricable crisis. We encourage an inclusive approaches and dialogue in order to serve the best interests of the Congolese nation. It is time for courage and truth.
Our prophetic mission
7. We remain faithful to our mission of watcher for the people of God (see. Ez 3, 17), we see several challenges to overcome in order to establish the rule of law in the DR Congo, and for the well being of the Congolese people. However, we do not intend to fight a political battle for the creation of a fair society. We do not plead for a political party either. As Pope Benoit XVI said “the Church cannot and shall not replace the State, but the Church cannot and shall not stay away from the fight for justice. This is why, “in our prophetic mission, each time the people asks the Church for help, the Church wants to be ready to give hope (see. 1P 3, 15), because a new day has come (Ap 22, 5) . We borrow words from Pope Benoit XVI : “Because of the Christ and by loyalty to his life lessons, our Church feels that it has to be present where people are suffering and has to break the silence about the persecuted innocents ».
8. Therefore, we will not stop denouncing situations that jeopardize the creation of a democratic state. You do not build the rule of law in a culture of fraud, lies, terror, militarism and flagrant violation of the freedom of expression. If democracy is a power of the people, by the people and for the people, the people must be respected. In the current situation, the Congolese people are being hurt and feel extremely frustrated. They are the powerless witnesses of a process that does not reflect their will and looks more like an arrangement between political actors.
Peace in the Truth
9. «The Church has a duty of truth to accomplish, a vital mission, it is a favor made to the liberating truth » . The election process will consolidate a democratic culture and the pacification of the country. We want peace. The peace we want shall not exist without truth, justice and respect for the people. It is in the name of peace that the Church encourages Congolese leaders to promote justice and show their love for the truth. What will be the values of our youth if the only thing they know is the anti-value system?
Attack on the integrity and dignity of people
10. In this context, we condemn the public campaign orchestrated by the Cardinal. All these insults have shocked the Catholics and many others. This shows the emergence of a single thought which condemns all contradictory opinions. We condemn all the insults and threats against the president of the CENCO, because democratic debates don’t allow personal attacks.
11. We cannot remain silent in front of all these abuses: physical threats, human rights violations, kidnappings, intimidations, and the confiscation of public means of communication by a political family. Because of their political opinion, bishops, clergy and peaceful citizens are still the victims of these threats.
12. We encourage the Catholics and the Congolese people as a whole not to resort to violence, because violence breeds violence. It provokes destruction and misery. We call upon the Congolese Diaspora, those who share our concern for a better Congo, and those we know make great sacrifices to help the Congolese living in Congo, not to resort to violence and find peaceful means in order to contribute to the construction of a truly democratic Congo. As our divine Master did, we must respond to violence with love. (see. Mt 5, 43-44).
13. We recommend:
- The Congolese people must not become pessimistic, hopeless, violent, tribal and xenophobic. The Congolese people must come together around the Christian and democratic values of justice and truth, they must grow together in the awareness of their national unity and sovereign power and use it in legality and vigilance;
- The politicians must prove that they are mature actors that have the capacity to organize, take their responsibilities, improve the political debate by stopping all injures , lies and by expressing their deep concern for the civism and well being of the population;
- The current INEC team must have the courage to question its own actions. They must absolutely correct the serious mistakes that have broken the trust the Congolese population had put in them. They shall otherwise resign.
- The Parliament must urgently review the composition of the INEC which is no longer trusted by the population. The Parliament shall also include civil society representatives for more independence and abstain from amending articles of the Constitution;
- The government shall learn the lessons from this election debacle and invest the adequate material for the elections and use these resources on time for future elections. The government shall also abstain from using public funds for personal gain and realize that the people want change.
- The National Police and the Armed forces must be professional, protect the population and most importantly refuse to obey unfair orders.
- The Supreme Court must be independent and conscious when making decisions in electoral disputes. The credibility of the judicial power lies in it.
- The international community shall primarily take into consideration the interest of the Congolese people, not be complaisant, support the quest for justice, peace and respect the self-determination of the Congolese people.
14. Our country is currently going through times of uncertainty and anguish. Our faith in God and our trust in humanity, which was created in the image of God, convince us that these feelings can be overcome if there is a change in the hearts, the mentality and the actions. It is necessary to love the country and to abandon selfish interests in order to find ways to bring about peace in the DR Congo. The peace we want can only be found in justice and love for the truth. The peace that is granted without justice is only ephemeral and illusory. The justice of men, if it not the fruit of reconciliation, truth and love remains uncompleted. It is love, justice and truth that trace the paths of the real justice and peace we want for the DR Congo.
15. May the prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Notre-Dame of Congo, whose heart is always oriented towards the will of God, support any conversion, consolidate all initiatives for reconciliation, dialogue and strengthen all efforts for a Congo that is thirsty for justice and peace.
Kinshasa, January, 11, 2012
 Cf. CENCO, Election Year: What should we do ? (Ac 2,37), n° 23.
 Benoît XVI, Lettre encyclique Deus caritas est, n° 28.
 Benoît XVI, Exhortation apostolique post-synodale Africae munus, n° 30.
 Benoît XVI, Exhortation apostolique post-synodale Africae munus, n° 30.
 Benoît XVI, Exhortation apostolique post-synodale Africae munus, n° 22