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Statement on Massacre in Eastern Congo

Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
July 15, 2005

I have just returned, along with Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, from a pastoral visit to support Church peace-building efforts in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. We sought to understand better local conditions and to express the solidarity of our Conference with the Church and the people of this troubled region.

It was with shock and dismay that we learned of the massacre of about 40 innocent civilians – mostly women and children – of the village of Ntulu-Mamba, in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by armed men. Ironically, our delegation was just 45 miles away meeting with religious and community leaders in the DRC who are committed to a just peace in Congo.

We commend the rapid response of the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC). It is essential that authorities identify the perpetrators and restore order. This latest atrocity underlines the need for the international community and the government of the DRC to give priority attention to the disarmament and repatriation of the foreign armed groups that have helped perpetuate the ongoing violence in eastern DRC and to bring those guilty of this latest outrage to justice.

Our heartfelt sympathy is with the families who have lost loved ones. We reiterate our support for our brother bishops in DRC for their continuing efforts in the difficult, but essential, work of bringing peace and reconciliation to this troubled region.

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