Cardinal Frederic Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi died on Saturday in the University Hospital of Leuven, in Belgium. He was born on 3 December 1930,he was ordained priest on 13 July, 1958,and he became Archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikoro on 11 November 1977. He was proclaimed a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1991. Cardinal Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.
In a statement to the Congolese nation and to the international community released on 11 November 2006 from Paris, the Cardinal seemed to doubt the independence of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and the outcome of the runoff of the first direct presidential election in more than 40 years, seemingly echoing the views held by some in the camp of former vice-president and presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba. This statement aggravated tensions in the capital city Kinshasa. Incumbent President Joseph Kabila was later declared the winner of the elections by the CEI and the results were upheld by the Supreme Court.
The Catholic Church holds considerable influence in both social and political life with half of the 63 million Congolese being Catholic, and one-third Christian.
President Joseph Kabila has expressed his condolences to the Christian community and declared a national day of mourning on the yet to be determined day when Cardinal Frederic Etsou will be laid to rest.