This Sunday in Versailles, France, the former archbishop of Kinshasa, the Cardinal of the Catholic Church Laurent Monsengwo, died, after being unwell.
Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, former archbishop of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), died this Sunday, July 11. Evacuated on July 5 in France after illness, he expired in Versailles at the age of 81.
The eminent man of the Catholic Church was much loved and very influential. Synodal father for the third assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2014, he was one of the leading figures of the Catholic Church. Laurent Monsengwo was also very close to the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, as well as to his successor, Pope Francis, whom he helped elect.
The late Cardinal Monsengwo resigned from his ecclesiastical province of Kinshasa in 2018. Where Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu replaced him as head of the archdiocese. Tributes have poured in from around the world for Monsengwo's passing, whether from worshipers, religious leaders or politicians and celebrities. The deceased was very important, and established concordance between the Church, Congolese society and the spheres of power. He was also a notorious opponent of the President of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko.
I am appalled by the death of His Eminence Laurent Cardinal Monsengwo. A huge loss for the #RDC. He was the glue of national cohesion. Thank God for everything he has done for our country. That his soul rests in peace. My condolences to all the Congolese. pic.twitter.com/2v06hNh65r
- Martin Fayulu (@MartinFayulu) July 11, 2021
Laurent Monsengwo, between Church and politics
The President of the DRC, Félix Tshisekedi, declared: "I greet a prince of the Church who worked for a long time in the service of the people". The president of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) and former rebel leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, called Monsengwo a "cheerful, altruistic and devoted father".
Also, a press release from the presidency describes Cardinal Monsengwo as "one of the major players in the democratization of the country". It should be remembered that over the course of the various political regimes in the DRC, and before in Zaire, Monsengwo opposed all the former heads of state. From Mobutu to Laurent Kabila, via Joseph Kabila, he has always criticized the power in place. His interventions under Mobutu officially put the Catholic Church on the political map in the DRC. In the 1970s, he was general secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Zaire. Since his promotion as Archbishop of Kisangani in the north of the country, he has increased calls for "a return to democracy".
However, with the fall of Mobutu, he became vice-president of SCEAM, regrouping all the Catholic conferences of Africa and Madagascar. Transferred from Accra to Kinshasa in 2007, Monsengwo declared: "If I wanted power, I would have taken it in 1997. But my ecclesiastical power is a thousand times greater than political power".
Then, becoming Cardinal in 2010, Monsengwo participated in the reform of the Roman Curia and the Pastor Bonus. During the revision of the latter, he represented Africa. His return to politics in 2018, in order to convince Joseph Kabila to leave power, was preceded by his resignation from the archdiocese. Due to his age, he is not renewed in his functions. His death would be "a test for the faithful" according to the Vatican.
I have the deep sorrow to announce to the Catholic Christian community and to all people of good will the death of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, this Sunday, June 11 in Versailles in France. Let us intensify our prayers for his eternal rest with the God whom he served.
- Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu (@TataCardinal) July 11, 2021