Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo of Kinshasa

Here is a fascinating long-form profile of the Archbishop of Kinshasa (and thus the head of the Congolese Catholic Church), Laurent Monsengwo.  It's in French, but I think you can have your navigator translate it.

The current story is very complicated, and I don't entirely understand it, and I'm sure there are nuances, especially as regards the apparent divisions between the Church hierarchy from Eastern DRC and the Archbishop.  But my short take is that Monsengwo is speaking truth to power, demanding that the current president of DRC, who has held onto power for 17 years, follow through on signed commitments to open up the democratic process, step down, and hold elections.

Among many other things, this article makes me:

  • want to learn about the "Zairean rite", an officially recognized variant of the Catholic liturgy (like the Eastern rite or the Malabar rite), and about all the other unique attributes of what seems to be a vital and fascinating Catholic religiosity in the DRC
  • admire the Archbishop's command of a reported 15 languages!  (including Hebrew, Aramaic, and other classics)
  • want to somehow support the struggles of the Church in DRC to bring democracy and dignity to a long-suffering people.  As I learn more about current events in the DRC, it seems like it's the first time in a long time that I've seen the institutional Catholic Church so clearly and vocally siding with the poor and the oppressed in a specific conflict.  It reminds me of Archbishop Romero's Church in 1970s El Salvador, and it's the role I think the Church is meant to play in the world.

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