Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) was born on 24 January 1960 in Boto, in the northern diocese of Molegbe. He attended courses in philosophy in the seminary of Bwamanda and in theology at the Saint Eugène de Mazenod Institute in the capital. He gave his first vows in the Friars Minor Capuchin in 1981 and his perpetual vows in 1987. He was ordained a priest on 14 August 1988, and was also awarded a degree in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.
He has served as parish priest in Bobito (1988-189), and taught moral theology at the Catholic University of the Congo in Kinshasa, at the interdiocesan major seminary of Saints Peter and Paul in Lisala, and from 1995 to 2005, at the Mazenod Institute. At the same time he held various roles among the Capuchin fathers and the representative bodies of religious life, such as major superior and vice-provincial of the vice-province of his order in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and national president of the Assembly of major superiors (Asuma) and of the circumscription of the Capuchin Franciscans in Africa (Concau).
He was appointed by Benedict XVI as bishop of Bokungu-Ikela, in the north-western province of the Equator, on 22 November 2004. He received episcopal ordination on 6 March 2005 from Joseph Kumuondala Mbimba, archbishop of Mbadanka-Bikoro, conconsecrated by Archbishop Giovanni d'Aniello, apostolic nuncio in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cardinal Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, archbishop of Kinshasa. The motto chosen by the new prelate was Omnia omnibus (“Everything to everyone”). He also served as apostolic administrator of Kole, in the centre of the French-speaking country with a Christian majority. Within the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (Cenco) he chaired the Justice and Peace Commission for eight years, and the Commission for Natural Resources.
On 5 March 2016 Pope Francis appointed him as apostolic administrator of Mbandaka-Bikoro, and then promoted him the following 12 November as archbishop of the same see. Immediately afterwards, in June 2017, he was elected as vice-president of Cenco. At this juncture he assumed a leading role in the search for a peaceful solution to the ongoing political crisis in the former Belgian colony, already debilitated by a conflict that has caused thousands of displaced people to flee the violence, and by the Ebola virus which continues to claim victims.
He co-chaired the dialogue that, with the signing of the San Silvestro Agreements, led to new elections at the end of 2018.
Pope Francis, on 6 February 2018, appointed him as coadjutor of Kinshasa, upon request by the elderly Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, whom he succeeded following the latter’s participation in the Synod held in the Vatican on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment”.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 5 October 2019, of the Title of San Gabriele Arcangelo all’Acqua Traversa.
- Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.