The Church's Role in Peacebuilding in Central Africa
In May 2002, the Bishops of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda released a joint declaration in which they strongly emphasized that all Christians and people of good are expected to work to end conflicts. Here is the entire text of Contribution de l’Eglise catholique au processus de paix dans la sous-région des Grands Lacs.
See also the United States Institute of Peace report Rough Neighborhood: Catholic Perspectives on Peace and Reconciliation in the Great Lakes. With the Congo just emerging from a civil war, the Institute hosted a briefing on Catholic perspectives on peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region. Featuring insights from Catholic bishops from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda, the panel discussed such issues as:
- The impact of conflict on social and religious institutions;
- The role of faith-based organizations in the promotion of peace and dialogue; and
- The challenges facing governments and civil society throughout the region.
For an overview of the challenges facing the Church in Central Africa relating to resource extraction and conflict, the Association of Episcopal Conferences of the Central African Region published The Church and Poverty in Central Africa (PDF document) in July 2008. This document is also available in French, L’Eglise et la Pauvrete en Afrique Centrale (also a PDF document).
In October 2012, several national and regional groups of bishops in the Great Lakes region and Horn of Africa met for a workshop on the theme “Revitalizing the strategy of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of the Great Lakes region and Horn of Africa for Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”
The Final Declaration (PDF in English), which created a working group and strategy of the Church for Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace, was approved by the National Catholic Episcopal Conferences of Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania, as well as the regional conferences ACEAC and AMECEA. The Declaration Finale (PDF en francais) is also available in French.
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar issued a comprehensive pastoral letter, “Governance, the Common Good and Democratic Transitions in Africa,” in February 2013. Recognizing the responsibility of all to contribute to the common good, the letter explores the church’s role, “using access points that include liberation, reconciliation and reconstruction, vis-a-vis democratic values of the quest for human dignity and participation of all people in decisions that affect the quality and direction of their lives.” The SECAM Pastoral Letter (link) is available for download in English, French and Portugese.
Selected articles on the the role of the Church in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda are available by clicking on the links to the right.