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The Catholic Church and the Kivu Conflict

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

This paper examines the role of the Catholic Church in the armed conflict that has engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1993. The conflict itself has two dimensions. Since 1996 the DRC has been at the centre of a major war that has spilled well beyond its borders, embroiling neighbouring states and others further afield. Less well known is the local struggle, in the eastern part of the country in the two provinces of North and South Kivu, which began three years earlier. While having a dynamic of its own, Kivu's fate has become entwined in the wider international conflict. Given its large constituency and immense wealth and infrastructure, the Catholic Church has come to wield enormous influence in the DRC, particularly in the context of a declining state. It was a key player in the movement for democratisation in the early 1990s and more recently it has sought to offer moral guidance on the conflict. But its attempts to adopt a superior moral outlook have been severely tested by the fact that its clergy are now thoroughly zairianised, and have come to embody the ethnic and political prejudices of their respective communities.

Affiliations: 1: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Paris


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