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Democratic Republic of Congo: A Prophet of Works of Mercy

An international symposium on the Servant of God Monsignor Christophe Munzihirwa in Bukavu

Bukavu (2)

Peace, justice and reconciliation were the focus of the international symposium on Monsignor Christophe Munzihirwa, held from 31 August to 3 September 2023 at the Collège Alfajiri in Bukavu, eastern DRC. The idea of organising this symposium was launched by the Congregation of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) of Congo in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Bukavu, where the Servant of God spent the last years of his life and ministry. The participants came from different African countries and beyond.

Under the inspiration and socio-political commitment of the Servant of God Monsignor Christophe Munzihirwa, the theme of the symposium was justice, reconciliation and peace in the Great Lakes region. It was a space for scientific, spiritual and socio-political meeting and reflection, bringing together men and women, leaders, professors, priests, nuns and all people of goodwill to share knowledge about Monsignor Munzihirwa and his commitment to peace, justice and reconciliation.

What was the aim of the symposium?

From a theoretical point of view, the aim of the symposium was to better understand the reasons behind the conflicts in the DRC and the Great Lakes region and to propose possible solutions for restoring peace. And to consolidate African unity by creating a network to raise awareness of the profound crisis plaguing parts of Africa. On a practical level, the symposium offered the opportunity to set up a reception, listening and support centre for people who have been victims of more than 25 years of war, to create a structure to support young people whose unemployment drives them to violence, and, finally, to create a platform to raise awareness and mobilise the nation around the values transmitted by the servant of God, Monsignor Munzihirwa. The idea is to start thinking about the concept of a ‘Monsignor Munzihirwa Foundation’.

Today we cannot ignore that there are many citizens in the world who want to see the law of Christ expressed and followed in their lives. They have worked to ensure that the Gospel message inspires their social, political and economic life and their laws. They are artisans of peace and justice who have risked their lives, even to martyrdom, and have written the beatitudes.

Bukavu (1)

Bishop Munzihirwa was a Christian who knew how to respond to the signs of the times. Indeed, his struggle for the triumph of human values remains a lesson for all his contemporaries, an invitation to tread the path of courageous commitment in the service of justice and peace. A prophet, a martyr, a peacemaker. His project for peace in the Great Lakes region is still a source of profound inspiration and allows us to reflect today on the challenge of peace and reconciliation and to chart a path of integral development and reconstruction for Africa, the DRC and the Great Lakes region.
Christophe Munzihirwa, throughout his episcopal ministry and in all his socio-political activities in the Archdiocese of Bukavu, was moulded by Gospel values and at the same time by the great goals of promoting a spirit of peace, an art of living together and family solidarity. This pastor, who knew how to denounce evil, renounce himself and proclaim the Gospel, placed the preferential option for the poor and inculturation at the centre of his ministry.

Former Archbishop of Bukavu, Mgr Munzihirwa was assassinated on 29 October 1996 during the first so-called ‘liberation of Congo’ war. It was in 1994, on his return from Rome where he had just participated in the Special Synod on the Church in Africa, that he was first confronted with the drama of hundreds of thousands of people arriving in South Kivu, driven out of Rwanda by genocide. The entire region was destabilised and out of the control of the civil authorities.

Welcoming refugees: the work of mercy highlighted by Bishop Munzihirwa

Bukavu (4)

Bishop Munzihirwa committed himself to the cause of refugees abandoned to their fate. He opened the diocese to refugees and called on Christians and the entire population to offer hospitality, food, clothing and medical care to refugees in need. This action took place in all parishes and especially in the grassroots church communities. A work of mercy that many Christians were able to carry out following the call of their pastor. This tragedy was the epilogue to the life of this pastor who wanted to set an example; a special simplicity, a devotion that led him to martyrdom, he who dedicated himself to protecting the weakest, the needy. He knew how to be the sentinel of his flock.

The Church of Congo, in particular, expects to count him among its beatified. It has already beatified Bakanja Isidore, for his attachment to the Catholic faith until death, and Sister Marie-Clementine Anuarite for her fidelity to religious vows. He also wished for the beatification of Bishop Munzihirwa, who was killed for justice and peace. He was resolutely committed to the struggle for justice and peace in the Great Lakes region.


Radio Maria Rdc Bukavu


Spazio Spadoni

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