Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic urged international peacekeepers to act more effectively and condemned attacks on churches and the “manipulation of religious feeling.”
The bishops criticized “certain peacekeeping contingents, against their proper mandate, and the culpable, complicit silence of elected politicians.”
“Armed bands are still fueling anarchy and imposing their rules on exhausted civilian populations, who no longer know where help will come from,” the bishops said in a four-page appeal. “In our dioceses, we witness this sad reality every day and deplore how our country remains in the grip of thugs.”
The appeal was published after a bishops’ plenary, which ended Jan. 14 with a cathedral Mass attended by President Faustin-Archange Touadera and the country’s chief imam, Oumar Kobine Layama.
It said the Catholic Church acknowledged efforts to secure stability by appointing local prefects, paying official salaries and establishing a special penal court, as well as through a development plan backed by the United Nations, World Bank and European Union.
However, it added that the country was still terrorized by violent groups and a lack of cooperation between government forces and the U.N. military mission, MINUSCA.
“Villages are vandalized and torched, their inhabitants tortured and killed without shame,” said the appeal, co-signed by the bishops’ conference president, Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga.
“We regret the slowness and inaction of certain MINUSCA contingents in their peacekeeping role. While our population ardently desires the redeployment of our own defense and security forces, some elements of these forces are now racketeering just as much as the armed groups.”
SOURCE: Catholic News Service / National Catholic Reporter