DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     March 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 61


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      This new feature that we introduce today will spotlight each member of the Conclave. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

37.   Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, C.I.C.M.

          A native of Zaire and second cardinal from this region, Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, C.I.C.M. was born in the village of Mazalonga, Zaire in Africa on December 3, 1930. Moved by the missionary priests in his area, he was prompted to enroll in the seminary and became a priest with the Order of the Missionhurst Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (C.I.C.M.) on July 13, 1958 in Paris where he received his degree in sociology at the Catholic Institute of Paris. He then received his degree in pastoral theology from Lumen Vitae in Belgium before returning to become President of the Kinshaha Province for the C.I.C.M.'s. followed by being selected Vice-President of the Zaire Assembly of Major Seminary Superiors. On July 8, 1976 Pope Paul VI chose him to be ordained bishop, assigning him as titular bishop of Menefessi and coadjutor archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikora. The title "coadjutor" was dropped on November 7, the same year when he was consecrated Archbishop of that See by the first cardinal of Zaire - Cardinal Malula. A year later year on November 11, 1977 he was selected Archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikoro in Zaire, a post he held until July 7, 1990 when he was promoted to Archbishop of Kinshaha and was chosen Vice-President of the Zaire Episcopal Conference.

          Less than a year after this he received the ultimate honor by Pope John Paul II who named him a cardinal in the Consistory of June 28, 1991 with the titular church of St. Lucy in a Piazza d'Armi. He serves Curial membership on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council Council for the Family.

          Zaire has been embroiled in internal strife between the Church and the anti-Christian government of President Mobutu who has advocated an "Africanization" platform that dismisses the European missionary influence brought to this land in the late fifteenth century. Throughout the history of this region there has been a strong anticlericalism that has curtailed conversions at times, but, like the early Christian martyrs, the Church has still flourished boasting over half of the population as Catholic. This is the fruits from the seeds of the martyred priests and religious following the bloody insurrection in 1960 in which many were killed. Add to this the Ebola outbreak in 1995 in which six missionary sisters contracted the disease and the takeover of the country two years ago by rebel forces after months of fierce, bitter struggles that were marked by tribal alliances in Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi. Many still consider the country Zaire but the new name is the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is another reason Cardinal Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi wants to be there in the capital city as the people's shepherd. Like most cardinals, Cardinal Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi is nearly seventy and doubtful he has the experience for papal possibilities because of age and limited global exposure. But that is fine with the people of Kinshasha who would be very content if one of their own stayed right where he is appreciated most - Zaire.

March 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 61


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