The influential former Archbishop of Kinshasa, Laurent Monsengo, died Sunday in Paris at the age of 81. Belgian Cardinal de Kessel celebrates him as a “beacon of hope and confidence”.
Monsengo was evacuated from Kinshasa in critical condition a week ago. According to his successor, Fridolin Ambongo, Monsengo, as Archbishop, was for a long time head of the only Congolese institution still enjoying the confidence of the Congolese population. Under the influence of Monsengwo, the Bishops’ Conference played a major role in the democratic opening in the last years of the Mobutu regime.
Even after Laurent-Désiré Kabila seized power, Monsengwo was not left unpunished and remained a critical voice. In the last years of Joseph Kabila’s regime, he said that the Congo would become an open-air prison under his rule.
Monsengo was no stranger to our country. In the sixties he studied in Belgium for a while, and during his stay he was under the patronage of the industrialist and former head of the employers’ organization VEV Vaast Leysen and his family.
From 2007 to 2010, he was also the international president of Pax Christi. Monsengwo retired at the end of 2018, the equivalent of a clergy pension.
“He was an exceptionally great person,” Cardinal Joseph de Kessel said in a press release of his former colleague. “A man who, in the turbulent political situation of his country, showed courage and a sense of responsibility and thus acquired enormous moral authority.”
Monsengo was also one of the nine cardinals who served as direct advisors to Pope Francis for the reform of the Roman Curia.