Magazine article The Christian Century

Church-Organized Protest in Congo Leads to Arrest of Priests and Nuns

Magazine article The Christian Century

Church-Organized Protest in Congo Leads to Arrest of Priests and Nuns

Article excerpt

Among dozens of arrests and several deaths in protests against the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, security forces detained ten Catholic priests and two nuns--a sign of the government's willingness to defy church authorities at the forefront of the movement to oust its authoritarian leader.

The Roman Catholic Lay Coordination Committee called for demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila on January 21 beginning after Sunday mass. Many other churches, as well as Muslim leaders, supported the protests also.

More than 200 people were arrested, and police and armed forces shot six people and wounded more than 100, according to the United Nations. One of those who died was a 16-year-old girl standing by a church door. Security forces fired tear gas into churches in different parts of the country, according to news reports.

"The church deplores the excessive use of force on demonstrators who were only armed with Bibles, rosaries and branches," said Abbe Donatien Nshole, the secretary general of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo.

Advocates for the arrested priests say they worry about their welfare. …

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