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Biographical notes

[Updated: 07.01.2007]


Notice: the biographical notes are only a working instrument for the press, for the exclusive use of accredited journalists.



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Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, C.I.C.M., Archbishop of Kinshasa, is the second Cardinal of Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaïre). He succeeded Cardinal Malula, who died 14 June 1989.

He was born on 3 December 1930 at Mazalonga, Lisala, in the province of Equatore, in Zaire. After having studied first at the Catholic school of Boyange, then in the Minor Seminary of Bolongo, Lisala, he continued at the Major Seminary of Kabwe in Western Kasaï, where he completed the first cycle of philosophy (1949-1953) and a year of theology (1953-1954). Withdrawing to silence and prayer, he realized his deep missionary desire to enter the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (C.I.C.M.), and completed the novitiate at Katoka, Western Kasaï, before completing the first cycle of theology in 1958.

Ordained a priest on 13 July 1958, Frédéric Etsou was then named vicar in two parishes of Kinshasa: St. Francis (Kintambo) and St. Peter (Kinshasa). Loving his work he always showed himself to be one of the most fervent proponent of the pastoral action "kinoise", initiated by the deceased Malula: a pastoral program aimed at continually affirming the Christian in the life of prayer.

The pastoral effort of Frédéric Etsou very soon attracted the attention of his superiors. He was sent to Europe to study for a doctorate in sociology at the Catholic Institute of Paris, France and in pastoral theology at the Lumen Vitae in Brussels, Belgium. He also studied science and letters at the Institute of Higher Studies d’Oltremare in Paris, France.

At the end of his studies, in 1968, he returned to Kinshasa where he was named Vicar Forane (Dean) in the parish of St. Peter and at the same time Vice-provincial of his Congregation. During this period he was elected at various times president of the Major Superiors Meeting of the province of Kinshasa and Vice-president of the Major Superiors Meeting of Zaire and the head of the C.I.C.M. group in Africa.

On 8 July 1976 he was elected titular archbishop of Menefessi and named Coadjutor Archbishop of Mbandaka (with the right of succession) and ordained on 7 November 1976 by His Eminence Cardinal Malula. On 11 November 1977 he became resident Archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikoro. His brothers in the Episcopate did not delay in entrusting to him the vice-presidency of the Episcopal Conference of Zaire (C.E.Z.). 

On 7 July 1990, Frédéric Etsou was named Archbishop of Kinshasa.

President of the Bishops' Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo, July 2000 - July 2004.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of 28 June 1991, of the Title of S. Lucia a Piazza d'Armi (St. Lucy at Piazza d'Armi).

Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi died on 6 January 2007.

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