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Congo bishop pays tribute to Belgian missionaries

Catholic World News - June 17, 2010

Bishop Nicolas Djomo of Tshumbe, president of the episcopal conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, traveled to Belgium to pay tribute to the missionaries who brought the Catholic faith to his central African nation. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Congolese independence from Belgium.

The missionaries “braved harsh social and climatic conditions and indeed many paid with their lives, as they toiled to build up local Churches which bring together men and women of every tribe, tongue and race in the name of Jesus,” said Bishop Djomo. They “knew how to combine the proclamation of the Good News with the promotion of human development. Catholic missions opened all over the country became centers of development with poultry farms, medical clinics, schools and other essential social services.”

“Thanks to the Church and to the support of the Belgian bishops, the Congolese were given access to higher education and university studies,” he added.

There are now 33.0 million Catholics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo-- 53% of the nation’s population-- and 3,081 seminarians. Belgium has 7.8 million Catholics-- 73% of the nation’s population-- and only 201 seminarians.

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