Demonstrators in DR Congo demand pope meet sexual abuse victims

Reuters [London, England]

February 2, 2023

By Benoit Nyemba

Around two dozen activists and sexual abuse victims demonstrated in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital on Thursday across the road from a cathedral where Pope Francis was meeting clergy.

They held up placards, including some demanding that the pope meet with clergy abuse victims in the country.

It was not clear if the pope saw the demonstrators as he arrived and left in a motorcade.

The demonstration in Kinshasa was organised by Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA), an international group, one of many that have been bringing attention to sexual abuse in the worldwide Church.

One demonstrator, Benjamin Kitobo, said he was abused when he was a boy in a seminary in the city of Kolwezi. He said the priest who allegedly abused him was later allowed to return to ministry.

There were no plans for the pope to meet with victims of sexual abuse in Congo, where about 50% of the population is Roman Catholic.

The main theme of the papal visit has been reconciliation and forgiveness to end conflicts that have killed millions and left millions of others as refugees and displaced people.

The 86-year-old pope has met with many victims of sexual abuse, both in Rome and on foreign trips.

On Friday, Francis ends his stay in Congo and moves on to neighbouring South Sudan, which is also grappling with conflict.

[Photo: Members of Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) hold a banner that reads ” No to Church Sexual Abuse” as they protest in front of the Cathedral Notre Dame De Lingwala, where Pope Francis came to meet Roman Catholic bishops, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo February 2, 2023. REUTERS/Luc Gnago]

Reporting by Benoit Nyemba; Writing by Sonia Rolley and Sofia Christensen; editing by Philip Pullella and Leslie Adler