Central African Republic - The wind of change: peace

20 October 2016

(ANS - Kaga Bandoro) - The Central African Republic is the country that was first to begin the Holy Year of Mercy. Late last November Bangui became "the spiritual capital of the world", as Pope Francis said at the time. The decision to open the Holy Year right there, even before St Peter’s in Rome, was motivated by several years of war, hatred, and misunderstanding ... which the Pope's visit healed for some time. Today, however, we must be aware that the fires of war remain lit and still constitute a serious threat.

"Since the visit of the Holy Father we have felt a wind of change blowing," Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui said in March 2016. In fact, at that time, the presidential elections had recently ended peacefully, even though they had feared more violence and clashes.

But at the end of summer the fighting resumed, particularly in the central parts of the country, as, for example, in the town of Kaga Bandoro. The Salesian Albert Vanbuel was bishop there up to September 2015. He is now bishop emeritus of the diocese.

From mid-September onwards there have been countless attacks and much violence in and around the city, so much so that the new titular bishop, the Franciscan Thaddée Kusy has had to appeal to the new President Touadéra and the UN forces for a return to the conditions for peaceful coexistence. There have been assaults and looting in various villages, and also, specifically, in several parishes.  Church leaders and staff of humanitarian organizations have been threatened and intimated. There have been shootings and killings that led to the deaths of dozens of people.

The latest serious episode took place on 12 October when the refugee camp located near the Bishopric was devastated by a militia group consisting of former Seleka - largely foreign mercenaries - in retaliation because one of their fighters had been killed while he was trying to steal a generator. The final toll was at least 30 dead.

Today, the Central African Republic needs more than ever to feel once again the wind of peace, so that the wind of change brought by the Pope a year ago may not cease. Who knows if the appointment of the youthful Cardinal Nzapalainga - just 49 years old and the country’s first cardinal – will be helpful in this regard? At the height of the civil war he did not hesitate to go in procession crossing the checkpoints on the line of fire between opposing factions.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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