Congolese archbishop to retire

Ill-health and exhaustion have prompted the early retirement of the Archbishop of the Congo, Henri Isingoma.

Ill-health and exhaustion have prompted the early retirement of the Archbishop of the Congo, the Most Rev. Henri Isingoma. Last week the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo announced the archbishop was stepping down as primate and bishop of Kinshasa to return to academia. His resignation comes three years before the completion of his second five-year term of office; and seven years before the usual retirement age of 65. “He has worked hard [and] contributed so much to the Christian unity, transparent and apolitical management of the Anglican Church of Congo,” the provincial secretary, the Venerable Anthonio Kibwela, said. “He had always expressed his interest for the joint initiative of the Anglican Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda with the Association of the Catholic Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) to establish peace in the Great Lakes’ region,” Archdeacon Kibwela said, noting: “He and his wife Madam Mugisa Isingoma Godelive have been involved in fighting against Gender Based Violence since 2004.” A native of the Eastern Congo, Archbishop Isingoma Henri Kahwa was born on 24 Nov 1958 in what was then the Belgian Congo. He was educated at the Boga Institute and the Nyankunde Institute receiving his diploma in 1977. He prepared for the ministry at the Congolese Church’s Superior Institute of Anglican theology in Bukavu graduating in 1984 and earned a Master of Theology degree at the Faculté de théologie évangélique in the Central African Republic. Following ordination he served as a parish priest in the Eastern Congo and as principal of the church’s seminary from 1993 to 1997. He was elected Bishop of Katanga in 1997. In 2007 he was translated to Boga, and in 2009 was elected third Primate of the Congolese church and translated to Kinshasa. In 2014 he was elected to a second five year term. He is a member of the GAFCON primates council and the Global South primates group.  Ethnic and political divisions have arisen in recent years within the Congolese House of Bishops and when he stood for reelection as archbishop in 2014,  Archbishop Isingoma received five votes while the other candidate the Rt. Rev. Zacharia Masimango received four. Calls have arisen to divide the church along ethnic lines, with provinces for the Eastern Congo, Katanga in the South and Kinshasa in the West. However, the country’s poverty coupled with the on-going effects of civil war have sapped the church’s energies. Within the house of bishops, a push by the breakaway American group, the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), to receive archepiscopal oversight from the Congo also served to divide the bishops. The Dean of the province, the Rt Rev Funga Lambert, Bishop of Kisangani, is expected convene a meeting of the House of Bishops in May to elect a new Archbishop.

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