Top Congo cardinal plays down church/state crisis

Top Congo cardinal plays down church/state crisis Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo of Kinshasa

Amid what threatened to become a serious church/state situation in Africa’s largest Catholic country, a cardinal threatened with prosecution for sedition in the Democratic Republic of Congo met May 16 with the country’s president and afterward attributed the tensions to “misunderstandings”.

“There has been more misunderstanding than a real problem,” said Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo of Kinshasa after his encounter with President Félix Tshisekedi at Congo’s Presidential Palace, where the chargé d’affaires of the Vatican embassy in Congo, Monsignor Andriy Yevchuk, was also present.

Cardinal Ambongo said the meeting, which lasted two hours, was devoted to discussing issues “that may have created unease”. Though Cardinal Ambongo did not indicate whether the recent threat of prosecution has been withdrawn, he attempted to present the results of the meeting in a positive light.

“Where people dialogue, things are clear,” he said. “It is with a feeling of great satisfaction and gratitude towards the head of state that I leave this office. As far as I’m concerned, normally there are no more problems. There have been more misunderstandings than real problems.”

Cardinal Ambongo also insisted that he and President Tshisekedi, whose great-uncle was a Catholic bishop in Congo but who today attends a Pentecostal mega-church, share a concern for the common good. “I think we agree on one point,” Cardinal Ambongo said.