“I Can’t Remain Silent When People are Being Killed Like Flies”

centrafrique-2In his sermon last Sunday, 21 July in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Bangui, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga had clear words to say. “I can’t remain silent while the sons of this country are the victims of the worst kind of barbarism. I can’t remain silent while Central Africans are being tortured and killed, squashed like flies. I can’t remain silent while our mothers and sisters are being raped. I can’t remain silent while the dignity of the Central African is being trampled underfoot, while innocent people are being robbed, while the just and well-earned fruit of our country is being destroyed and looted as though we were in a house of cards. I can’t remain silent when impunity reigns and a dictatorship of arms is being set up.”

At the same time he forgave those who saw him as a “political opponent” or “wrongly” ascribed to him “political ambitions and power aspirations.” He declared: “I am a shepherd, not a political fighter. I dare to hope that one or other person will hear in my voice the Central African people’s cry of suffering.”

The Holy Mass was being held on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Episcopal consecration. On June 26 of this year Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga received the pallium from Pope Francis together with 33 other Archbishops from throughout the world. Last Sunday was celebrated in the capital of the Central African Republic as “Action of Mercy”.  At the same time services were held in many countries for peace in the Central African Republic.

This international day of prayer had been initiated by the order of Carmelites in Italy, which maintains five missions in the Central African Republic. The international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” had also invited the faithful throughout the world to pray on this day for the people of this country as it descended into violence and chaos.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org