Killer of Nun Wants To Beg For Forgiveness From Pope With AM-Pope-Africa, Bjt
KINSHASA, Zaire (AP) _ The convicted killer of a nun to be beatified on Thursday by Pope John Paul II has asked for a papal audience to plead for forgiveness, the official Zaire radio reported Tuesday.
The pope’s 12-day African tour schedule called for a stop in Zaire on Wednesday. The main purpose of his second visit to this country was to conduct the beatification of Sister Anuarite Nengapeta, killed by rebel soldiers in 1964, as the first African woman martyr of the Roman Catholic Church.
Beatification is the next-to-last step to sainthood.
Former Army Col. Pierre Openge Olombe was one of the leaders of rebel troops who overran a Roman Catholic convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family in the remote village of Bafwabaka, 275 miles north of Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville), on Dec.1, 1964.
He was sentenced to death in 1965 for beating and stabbing Sister Anuarite to death after she resisted his sexual advances.
President Mobutu Sese Seko commuted his sentence to life imprisonment and pardoned him after he had served five years.
Olombe now lives in seclusion in the capital, Kinshasa, and wants John Paul to receive him during the 46-hour papal visit to Zaire, the radio said.
Olombe submitted a formal request for the audience to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Alfio Rapisarda.
A nun acting as spokeswoman for the nuncio confirmed that he had received the request but said, ″No action has been taken on it so far.″
Olombe could not be reached immediately, but Essolomwa Nkoy Linganga, a friend of the president and director of the official daily Elima, said he had obtained an interview with Olombe that would be published in a special edition to mark the pope’s arrival.
Essolomwa said Olombe, 47, has become a devout Roman Catholic and regular churchgoer.
Witnesses to the attack on the convent in 1964 had reported that Olombe and another officer picked out two of the nuns and proclaimed them as their ″wives.″ Sister Anuarite, 25, resisted the attack and was repeatedly clubbed and stabbed with bayonets by Olombe and his men.
At Olombe’s trial, Sister Uwenze, one of her companion nuns, testified that Sister Anuarite’s last words were, ″I forgive you, for you know not what you do.″
Following the defeat of the rebels, Olombe was tried and sentenced to death. But before the sentence could be carried out, the Kisangani prison was overrun by white mercenaries led by Belgian adventurer Jacques Schramm and Olombe escaped.
He joined government troops and played a leading role in defeating the mercenaries.