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Pope remembers martyrs in Congo killed for refusing to convert

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience - April 19-2023

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 05/26/24

The Pope said they were killed "in recent days" -- the conflict in Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to bring victims.

On May 25, 2024, Pope Francis said during an audience with leaders of the Pontifical Mission Societies (OPM) that Catholics in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had recently been murdered because they had refused to convert to Islam.

“I would like to stop and thank God for the testimony of martyrdom that a group of Catholics from Congo, from North Kivu, have given in recent days. Their throats were slit simply because they were Christians and didn’t want to convert to Islam,” said Pope Francis, leaving aside the text of his address.

According to the group International Christian Concern:

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which established ties with the Islamic State group in 2018 and seeks to establish Shariah throughout the region, often kidnaps Christians and kills those who refuse to convert to Islam.

Congo map
North Kivu is a province in the north west. It borders both Uganda and Rwanda.

Our martyrs

The Pope then remembered the 21 Coptic martyrs murdered in 2015 on a beach in Libya by the Islamic State organization. “Those Copts whose throats were slit and who, on their knees, said: ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’ … The martyred Church is the Church of the Lord’s tenacity,” the Pope said.

Those martyrs are now shared by the Catholic Church and the Coptic Church, as on May 11, 2023, in front of the patriarch who had come to the Vatican, Francis announced that the 21 Christian martyrs would be entered into the Roman martyrology.

Forgotten crisis

In early 2023, the head of the Catholic Church visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he met victims of the violence raging in the North Kivu region, in a deeply emotional event.

Two weeks ago, the Pontiff expressed his sadness at the “cowardly attack” that took place in the Mugunga refugee camp, resulting in the death of more than a dozen people.

Here’s a backgrounder to better understand the conflict in the region:

The OPM is the worldwide network at the service of the Pope that aims to support young Churches financially and spiritually.

Democratic Republic of CongoMartyrsPope Francis
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