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Bishop Leaves Synod to Care for Parish Attacked by Rebels
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Friday, October 9, 2009
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VATICAN CITY (CNS)—While members of the Synod of Bishops for Africa were discussing ways to promote peace and solidarity on the continent, a Congolese bishop told the assembly he had to go home to care for one of his parishes that had been attacked.

Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu told the assembly he would leave Oct. 9 because his parish in Ciherano had been attacked.

"While we are talking in this meeting, the pastoral workers in my archdiocese are being attacked by enemies of peace," he said. "One of our parishes was set on fire Oct. 2, some of the priests were mistreated and others were taken hostage by uniformed men who demanded a large ransom, which we were forced to pay."

Agence France Presse, the French news agency, reported that a kidnapped priest and seminarian were freed Oct. 3 after payment of a $5,000 ransom.

Archbishop Maroy Rusengo told the synod that rebels want to silence the Catholic Church which is "the only support for a people who are terrorized, humiliated, exploited and dominated."

AFP reported that Congo's government said members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda living in eastern Congo were responsible for the attack on the parish and the kidnappings, but the rebel group insisted it was not involved.

The presiding officers of the Oct. 4-25 synod gave the archbishop a letter Oct. 8 pledging the solidarity and prayers of the entire synod assembly in the hope that warring hearts would be changed by the "values of justice, reinforced by the desire for peace, which is a gift of God."

The letter also expressed hope that government leaders in the region would "do everything possible to restore order with justice in order to establish and guarantee peace, which is indispensable for a normal life."

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