THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of Congo is one of the world’s poorest countries. In 2014, Congo ranked 186 out of 187 on the United Nations’ human development index—vying with Niger for the bottom of the list.
Yet Congo is extremely rich in soil, water, forests, and minerals. Diamonds, copper, gold, oil, uranium, and coltan are all mined, purchased, and traded from the DRC.
Coltan is the ore used in electronic devices. The so call “war of coltan” in the mineral-rich eastern Congo has left millions dead and more than a million women raped. Transnational corporations are able to exert extreme pressure on Congo’s weak government and economy. As a result, the country’s natural resources have become an important factor in increasing poverty and violence rather than wealth and development.
The Catholic bishops in Congo (about half of the country’s population is Catholic) repeatedly have denounced three specific kinds of evil: a climate favoring genocide, outbreaks of religious fundamentalism, and a push toward Balkanization.
Sébastien Muyengo, author of In the Land of Gold and Blood, is the Catholic bishop of Uvira in eastern Congo. As a result of the mineral wars, he writes, the country’s poverty has become a mental, human, and structural poverty, rather than predominantly material. Yet Congo has resources the rest of the world wants.
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The leak is so big — 2.6 terabytes of data, the largest in history — that nearly 400 journalists in more than 80 countries spent the last year studying the 11.5 million documents from the firm Mossack Fonseca, provided to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source. The collaboration, which included the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Guardian, the BBC, and French outlet Le Monde, is also thought to be among the largest investigative teams in history.
Canadian police are investigating Chaldean Catholic priest from London, Ont., after church officials reported more than $500,000 Canadian dollars ($380,000 U.S.) slated for refugee sponsorship was lost to gambling, according to The Toronto Star.
Father Amer Saka, a priest working at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, allegedly told his bishop, Emanuel Shaleta, that funds intended to help new Canadians had instead vanished in vice, Shaleta told the Star.
A Spanish priest has confessed to leaking secret Vatican information to journalists, telling a Holy See court he felt trapped and in danger, especially from an Italian co-worker he had fallen for. Monsignor Angelo Lucio Vallejo Balda told the court on March 14 that he passed information to two Italian journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who in November published books featuring the confidential documents on Vatican financial misfeasance and Pope Francis’ efforts to overhaul the system.
Pope Francis has approved new rules to tighten financial oversight of the canonization process after leaked documents revealed abuses and high costs in creating saints. The new measures focus on how the Holy See handles applications for sainthood, which can be a lengthy and expensive process that involves examining claims made by supporters of a would-be saint.
Christian Ventisette was stopped at Madrid airport after an international arrest warrant was issued for the French-Italian businessman, Italy’s financial police said Feb. 24. Ventisette is accused of scamming more than 250 investors out of around 30 million euros ($33 million) in an international operation involving an Argentine priest. The retired cleric, the Rev. Patrizio Benvenuti, was put under house arrest in Italy earlier this month. He previously worked at a Vatican tribunal and currently has residency in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the west coast of Africa.
Pope Francis minced no words when it came to the environment: “The environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human causes affects us all and demands our response ... we can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history.”
Led by charismatic preachers and self-proclaimed prophets, African churches are swelling with promises of miracle healings, signs, and wonders. But in recent months, governments across the continent are trying to rein in these churches.
On a recent morning outside the Church of San Agustin in the middle-class neighborhood of Narvarte, two students sell bric-a-brac and blast the Beatles’ “Let It Be” through a smartphone hooked up to speakers. When asked what Pope Francis’ first visit to the country as pontiff on Feb. 12 means to them, they shrug. “It’s not like he’s going to come in and magically make all of our problems go away,” said Uriel Velazquez Tonantzin, 20, who dropped out of seminary a year ago to take a music composition program.