Bishops’ conferences from Francophone West Africa have pledged solidarity with Christian communities after a spate of Islamist attacks and urged governments and religious leaders to do more to counter “unlooked-for menaces, tragedies and catastrophes.”
“Terrorist outrages are sowing desolation and disorder, especially in Christian communities – with hearts full of emotion and sadness, we think of brothers and sisters who’ve paid with their lives for fidelity to the Gospel and devotion to the Virgin Mary,” said the Regional Episcopal Conference of Francophone West Africa, known by the French acronym, CERAO.
“We express our strongest condemnation at this disquieting wave of violence and assure our bruised brethren of solidarity, prayerful communion and compassion.”
In a joint pastoral message, published on 22nd May after their weeklong assembly in Ouagadougou, the bishops said epidemics, ecological disasters and “new outbreaks of intercommunal and interreligious violence” had been compounded by chaotically organised elections, attacks on democracy and “new forms of terrorism,” as well as mass migration, which had made young people vulnerable to slave traders and human traffickers.
“Religious leaders must rise together to denounce any instrumentalisation of religion, particularly killings perpetrated in the name of God,” said the Catholic bishops from Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Benin, Mali, Togo, Ivory Coast and Guinea.
Picture: A displaced Christian woman prays in front of a grotto with a statue of Mary in Kaya, Burkina Faso, on 16th May 2019. Bishops’ conferences from Francophone West Africa have pledged solidarity with Christian communities after a spate of Islamist attacks. (CNS photo/Anne Mimault, Reuters).