Bishop who was uncle of DR Congo president, dies of coronavirus

Mgr Gérard Mulumba, évêque émérite de Mweka en RDC/Facebook Hubeka Nshimbi
18 avril 2020 pas de commentaire

Gerard Mulumba, 82, headed the Diocese of Mweka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for nearly 30 years

Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba, whose brother was a three-time prime minister of the former Zaire and whose nephew is currently president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has died of the coronavirus.

The 82-year-old died in the early hours of April 15 at a clinic in the DR Congo capital, Kinshasa, where he had been in confinement for several days.

He was the central African country’s 22nd victim of COVID-19 and the first DR Congo bishop to die of the disease.

Funeral of Étienne Tshisekedi

Bishop Mulumba was the younger brother of Etienne Tshisekedi, father of the current Congolese president (Felix Tshisekedi) and chief opponent of former presidents Laurent and Joseph Kabila.

After Etienne Tshisekedi died in 2017 in Belgium, the bishop had the near impossible task of organizing his funeral due to tensions with then-president Joseph Kabila.

The funeral could not be held until May 2019, not long after Felix Tshisekedi had assumed the office of the DR Congo presidency.

Head of the President’s Civilian House

Gerard Mulumba was ordained to the priesthood in 1967. He then studied theology in DR Congo and the sociology of development at the University of Louvain in Belgium and eventually became a seminary rector.

John Paul II appointed him bishop of Mweka in 1989 and there he would serve for some 28 years. Pope Francis finally accepted Mulumba’s resignation in 2017 when the bishop was just a few months from marking his 80th birthday.

Just a year after his retirement, Bishop Mulumba was appointed head of the civil house of the president. In this capacity, he was responsible for the management of the stewardship and logistics of residences and private presidential sites, as well as the secretariat of the Head of State and the presidential medical service.

Meanwhile, the rapid spread of COVD-19 around the world is beginning to cause alarm in DR Congo. The country had registered 267 cases of infection by April 16 and Bishop Mulumba was the latest of the 22 people who had died from the virus.

Lucie Sarr (Traduction La Croix International)

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