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#8thJuly Memory of Floribert Bwana Chui

July 8 2019

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The story of Floribert Bwana Chui - a young Congolese customs officer in Goma - is that of a man who was murdered for not succumbing to corruption. Knowing it helps to understand the new forms of martyrdom: it is a silent sacrifice, so far away from the interests of the media, which however shakes the social and political life of those states where corruption has become customary. Pope Francis too confirmed this during his trip to Africa in 2015, when a young woman asked him: "Can corruption be justified because everyone is corrupt? How can we be Christians and fight the evil of corruption?" In his reply, the Pope stated: "Corruption is something that gets inside us. It's like sugar [...]. Every time we accept a "bribe", we destroy our heart and our homeland [...]. As in all things, you have to start: if you don't want corruption, start now! If you don't start, your neighbor won't start either." Speaking to young people, during the visit, he added: "Boys and girls, corruption is not a life journey: it is a journey of death!”

Who was Floribert?
His story is short and full of faith, which was embodied in a humanly rich land with a beautiful landscape, yet politically complex and troubled. Floribert was born the 13th June 1981 in Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border with Rwanda, and grew up in a time with no peace, due to two recent bloody wars. He was killed in Goma, on 7 July 2007, for having blocked the passage of deteriorated foodstuffs, harmful to the health of the population. He died at the age of 26.

After the autopsy, Sister Jeanne-Cécile, her medical friend, says: "He had been tortured terribly, had broken his teeth, as well as his left arm, and there were showy traces of iron on the genital apparatus and on the buttocks ». One can die of corruption. It happens every time the force of corruption, which means "to break into so many parts", eclipses the common good. If, on the one hand, corruption seduces and attracts, on the other hand, as Pope Francis recalls, it forces men to get their hearts dirty, prevents the conscience from making generous choices towards others, takes away the freedom to listen to God's voice. This is why corrupt men, instead of distinguishing good from evil, limit themselves to self-justifying evil (3). Saying "no" to corruption, in Africa and in many other corners of the world, can cost the sacrifice of life.

In his introduction to the book about Floribert, Andrea Riccardi underlines the strength the defeat of men of peace and faith leaves as a legacy: "This story deserves attention [...]. It is a very sad story, which shows the strength of corruption and the climate of violence. But it is also the story of the "weak force" of a young man of faith. It indicates the way of the resurrection of Africa, which begins with the youngsters and lay people".