CAMEROON – Bishops ask state to protect clergy after bishop’s murder


Following autopsy results which revealed that a missing archbishop had been murdered a few weeks ago, the bishops of Cameroon have called on the government to “assume its noble task of protecting human life, and notably that of ecclesiastical authorities.”

The bishops noted that there have been a number of unsolved murders of clerics and religious including “to mention only a few”: Fr. Joseph Mbassi, killed in 1988; Fr. Antony Fontegh, 1990; Archbishop Yves-Joseph-Marie Plumey, 1991; a group of religious sisters in Djoum, 1992; and Fr. Engelbert Mveng, 1995.“We have the impression that the clergy of Cameroon are particularly persecuted by obscure and diabolical forces,” the bishops wrote in a  statement from the Cameroonian Bishops’ Conference.

Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala of Bafialeft disappeared in the evening of 30 May. His car was found parked on the Sanaga bridge with a fake suicide note left by the killers inside it. His body was found June 2, about 10 miles from the bridge. However, an autopsy showed that the bishop had not drowned, and there were signs of torture on his body.

The Bishops Conference stated “Given the initial findings, we, the bishops of Cameroon, affirm that Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala did not commit suicide; he was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one too many.” They called on the Cameroonian government “to shed complete light on the circumstances and the motives” for Bishop Bala’s murder and that those reponsible be identified and handed over to the authorities.

The bishops also said they were praying for Bishop Bala’s murderers, asking them “to strive for urgent and radical conversion.” To the people of the Diocese of Bafia and Bishop Bala’s natural family, the bishops said: “keep courage, for Christ has conquered the world. Your pastors carry with you the dolour of this sad disappearance. Do not let your faith fail. Find the necessary strength in the celebration of the Eucharist.” They prayed that “Our Lady of Sorrows, Patronness of Cameroon, accompany us in this difficult trial.”

ACN Malta