Vatican sacks DRC bishop

Vatican City - The Roman Catholic church has dismissed a bishop in the Democratic Republic of Congo for mismanagement, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Pope Benedict XVI "has withdrawn from Mgr Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba the pastoral charge of the diocese of Pointe-Noire", it said in a statement.

It said that this rare move was motivated by "serious problems of management within the diocese, among others economic management" and by "acute tensions within the diocese", according to the Vatican, which said there was no issue of sexual morals involved.

The religious news agency I-Media quoted Vatican sources to the effect that the management at Pointe-Noire had been disastrous and the prelate did not enjoy the confidence of his clergy.

Makaya Loemba, 56, was ordained a priest in 1983, and appointed bishop of his diocese of origin in December 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

I-Media said the unusual circumstances in which the bishop quit his post suggested he refused to resign.

The same procedure was used in January 1995 when John Paul II fired the bishop of Evreux, in France, Mgr Jacques Gaillot.

In recent months several bishops in central and western Africa - the Central African Republic, Benin and Burkina Faso - have resigned.

No official reasons were given but many prelates, often the young ones, have to quit over problems of management, sexual behaviour or incompatible religious activities or beliefs.

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