AFRICA-MADAGASCARActs of vandalism against the Church
Fides Agency, 21 February 2017: Kinshasa -- "There is a resurgence of fear, anger, uncertainty”, says Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides in which he denounces the attacks against the Church in the last few days.
Damage at the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Malole seminary, which was struck by arson Feb. 18, 2017. (Credit: Aid to the Church in Need.)
"We have learned with indignation, Saturday, February 18, of the fire in part of the Major Seminary of Malole by uncivilized people who later spread terror at the nearby Carmelite sisters in Kananga,” writes the Cardinal, who also recalls the demonstrations that occurred on three occasions in front of the Archbishopric of Kinshasa, by groups of young people who "created an atmosphere of panic”. These incidents were followed by the desecration of the parish of Saint Dominic, Limete, by a "group of about twenty spiteful young people” who "knocked over the tabernacle, looted the altar, broke benches, and tried to set fire to the church. The community of the Missionary Oblates was not spared”.
Words of an eye-witness: Father Augustin MULELE had a terrifying surprise which he recounts in an e-mail.
It was almost 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, February 19, 2017, when I opened the door of my room to gather some avocadoes that I had heard falling from the tree. I saw the gate of our store wide open and a group of young intruders at work before my eyes. There were five or six of them.
Was it a dream? They had bottles filled with gasoline.
--Likambo nini ? What’s going on?
--Tokotumba bino Cenco. We are going to burn you, you CENCO. (National Bishops’ Conference of Congo).
--Te, botika, famille, boye te. No, dear friends. Don’t do that.
While I was trying to dialogue with them, I saw the tires of a car set on fire. I grabbed a cloth to extinguish the fire and the young men came toward me. One of them threw a bottle at me.
Then I called my confreres for help. "Father Willy, come down quickly; we are being attacked.”
At this, the assailants fled, in sight of our neighbors.
When my confreres arrived, we got in a jeep to follow them. But we stopped and decided to go to the police. Captain Charly of the police of the communal hall received us. We went back with him so that he could examine the scene of the crime. On the way, he asked us to call instead the colonel at the Seventh Street station. We decided to go there. The colonel was not there.
The captain suggested that we go home on Zinnia (Road) but by taking a street different from the little boulevard. On our way there, I recognized some members of the group that had tried to sabotage us. They ran away.
--There they are; let’s follow them.
So two of the criminals were caught on Seventh Street by the police who had been called. Both were taken to the police station at the Limete communal hall.
Having returned to our community, we were visited by three agents of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Congo (MONUSCO). They reported the damage and advised us to be cautious in this time of crisis in the country and in the capital Kinshasa.
The attackers had probably come from the parish church of St. Dominic which had been desecrated a short time before. They vandalized the altar, broke the statues of the Virgin, and pushed over the tabernacle. And in the street on Sunday morning, others had pulled off the veil from a nun and pelted her with insults.
Excerpts from a February 16 e-mail of Fr. Ronald CAIRNS, Provincial of the Northern Province of South Africa, to Fr. Louis LOUGEN, Superior General.
Last night, after a beautiful Oblate celebration in Germiston where I installed Fr Rodney GEORGE as Novice Master and received the 12 new novices, on my way home and thanking God, I was praying the rosary when I was carjacked in a suburb called Kew. As I stopped at the traffic light at 7:30 pm, suddenly I saw a young man in the front of the car pointing a gun at my head and the next moment, another young man with a gun pointed at my head by the driver’s door of the car. …The guy pulled me out and the two jumped into the car and drove off…
Cars behind me and cars on the other side of the road did not stop even to assist me. But suddenly two young men under the influence of alcohol or drugs rushed up to me and said: "My priest, my beautiful priest and you are an Oblate.” It so happened that one of these guys used to be an altar server of mine; he now lives in Soweto and knows Fr. Zweli and recognised the Oblate habit. I was surprised.
These two guys (drug dealers) took me on a long walk to their house where there were people who were drunk or under the influence of drugs. They gave me water with sugar and asked me to bless and pray for them and they organised it so that a neighbour with a car could take me back home. It is amazing how God works. While we waited for the neighbour’s car to arrive I was able to share with them and beg them to change their ways and they promised to come to next Sunday’s Mass…
The news had somehow gone viral and on my return home, two priests and many people were waiting anxiously for me.
(File photo 2013) - Photo Credit: www.alexnews.co.za
They then took me to the police station and for hours, I had to write two statements as there was a power struggle between two captains. But the police were helpful and polite and concerned. Then a plainclothes detective saw me and said: "You are an Oblate.” He recognised the habit and told me that he grew up under the OMI in Soweto. Then things moved faster. But it took hours.
I don’t know why the good Lord and Our Lady permitted the car to be hijacked. But I offer it in reparation. Through consecration to Our Lady whose rosary I was praying and through the protection of my Guardian Angel and St. Eugene, the good Lord protected me. Normally these guys shoot one dead or they body-search you. But they did not…body-search me or take my wallet with documents and they did not steal my Oblate cross to melt down and to sell for money for drugs. They did not shoot or even harm me… And here I am safe and sound; the Lord sent me helpers and I was not stranded and I am alive and not hurt…. I thank God and Our Lady that I am safe and sound and while exhausted from it all, I am not in trauma and feel deep inner peace and gratitude.