Democratic Republic of the Congo

Fathers Jean-Pierre Ndulani (50), Edmond Kisughu (53) and Anselme Kakule Wasukundi (41) have been missing since the 19th of October 2012.

Fathers Jean-Pierre Ndulani (50), Edmond Kisughu (53) and Anselme Kakule Wasukundi (41) have been missing since the 19th of October 2012. These three religious from the Congregation of the Augustinians of the Assumption were in the presbytery of the Church of Our Lady of the Poor, founded by the congregation 70 years ago, where they are in charge of a secondary school with 450 pupils, boys and girls. During the night, armed men entered the house. They did not rob anything but took the three priests away with them leaving only the parish priest, Father Joseph Paluku (45). He had locked himself in his room and the attackers were unable to break down the door. Fr Emmanuel Kahindo, vicar general of the Congregation said: "Apart from the immediate enquiries made in the days following the event, the police have not carried out any real investigation." Fr Kahindo deplores this situation, indicating that the fault lies in lack of interest on the part of the government which is overwhelmed by the open conflict with the M23 militia in the north of Kivu. 
 
Was this a premeditated attack, an act of intimidation against the Church? Father Emmanuel said: "To give a reply to that we need to look at the socio-economic situation of the country. The Church is often the only body to speak out against the violations of the rights of people, against the exploitation of the wealth of the country and the violence of the armed groups in the region, against the hypocrisy of the foreign community and the lethargy of the government. … It alone dares to express the will of the people and demand peace." 
 
The diocese of Butembo-Beni, where the parish of Our Lady of the Poor is, has received many telephone calls since the event occurred – "People who claim to be the kidnappers and demand money", but when they are asked for some sign as proof, no more is heard from them. There is still hope of seeing the three religious again, alive, but it depends on the good will of those responsible. Mgr Melchisedech Sikuli Paluku, bishop of Butembo-Beni, has taken radical and painful measures for the Church: "In November, the sector where the parish of Our Lady of the Poor is has been excluded from all sacramental services…" so as to put pressure on the population and bring to light any possible complicity. The Church wishes to know the truth. "If the intruders really did come from far away, how were they able to get into the presbytery without difficulty?" asked Fr Emmanuel. Study groups have been formed among the local population, and are consulted by the bishop. For the past two months, the faithful have been meeting to pray: "Prayer is our ultimate assistance. We are praying for our brothers but also for our people. What our brothers are going through is what the people are experiencing every day. We want peace." Since the end of October many persons have been kidnapped in the fields around Eringeti, some 40 km from Mbau. 
 
Father Emmanuel Kahindo says: "We are concerned for the life of our brothers: like them, hundreds of ordinary citizens have been taken away in the past year in the region of Mbau-Oïcha … and they have not returned. Today we have no news of our brothers, we know nothing about the kidnappers or their motives. "

(Translation of an interview with Fr Emmanuel Kahindo, Vicar General of the Congregation of the Augustinians of the Assumption, by Adrien Bail from the daily "La Croix", 2 January 2013) 
 
29/01/2013
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