[ACNS Digest] Tributes have been paid following the sudden death of Bishop Désiré Mukanirwa Kadhoro, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Goma in the Anglican Church of Congo. Bishop Désiré was highly respected around the world for the role he played in reconciliation and in helping to tackle the Ebola crisis. The Primate of the Eglise Anglicane du Congo, Archbishop Masimango Katanda Zacharie announced the news with “deep pain” on Saturday evening (11 July).
Archbishop Masimango said that the unexpected death of Bishop Désiré in Goma followed a short illness. “The Anglican Church of the Congo expresses its sincere condolences to his wife, Mama Claudaline Muhindo, and her family, as well as to the Diocese of Goma”, he said.
Bishop Désiré had served as the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Goma since its creation in November 2016. In that time, he developed a reputation as a reconciler, educator and evangelist.
The Director for Mission at the Anglican Communion Office, Canon John Kafwanka, described Bishop Désiré as “a reconciler, an evangelist and a disciple maker”, adding: “Bishop Désiré had a big heart and a big smile. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”
The Bishop of Hertford, Dr Michael Beasley, accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on a pastoral visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo last year to see the Church’s response to the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu. Dr Beasley said that Bishop Désiré “played a central role” in the Church’s response. “As a much respected figure, in 2019, he worked across faiths to enable the training of more than 60 leaders from different Christian denominations and their Islamic partners to consider the specific contribution that churches and mosques could make towards the understanding of Ebola, its prevention and mitigation”, he said.
James Megoran, a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reconciliation team, also took part in the pastoral visit. “Bishop Desire held the mission of reconciliation central to his own personal discipleship in one of the most divided and traumatised nations in Africa”, he said. “As a respected faith leader in one of the most important cities in the nation, he managed to communicate this message to not only regional leaders, but to those in the most threatened and vulnerable positions within society.
“His ministry was underpinned with his deeply held theological belief that reconciliation was the spiritual reality which could bind his nation together, as well as the tribes, communities and families brutalised by conflict and embittered with hatred. He was personally engaged in mediation efforts with numerous rebel groups across his diocese often placing himself at significant personal risk.
“He regularly travelled to and remained with, traumatised parish communities threatened by rebels where he spoke boldly and passionately about the need for forgiveness. He maintained that the next generation had to be brought together in a spirt of trust, and his annual youth forums held in Goma encouraged the spirit of reconciliation through football matches between different ethnic and tribal groups. Désiré leaves a new generation of emerging reconciliation leaders behind him.”
The Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, Rachel Carnegie, also worked with Bishop Désiré. She described news of his death as “tragic”, adding: “Bishop Désiré was an inspirational leader and will be profoundly missed.”