COMMUNIQUÉ ABOUT THE BURNING DOWN OF THE ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH NCHANG, MAMFE DIOCESE AND THE KIDNAPPING OF RELIGIOUS PERSONNEL
It was with great shock and utter horror that we, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, learnt of the burning down of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nchang, Mamfe Diocese, and the kidnapping of five priests, one Religious Sister and two lay faithful by unknown Gunmen, and taken to an unknown destination in the surrounding Forests of Nchang village on the evening of 16th of September, 2022. This act was completely unprecedented, and as at now, no concrete reason has been given for this heinous act against the house of God and the Messengers of God.
Since this crisis started in 2016 until today, the People have suffered terribly and men and women of God have been soft targets of kidnappers, torturers and unscrupulous gun men. A wave of persecution against the hierarchy of the church is now the new game of the “Struggle”, and all kinds of threat messages are sent out against Missionaries who have surrendered their lives to work for the people. These attacks are not only against the Catholic Church but also against the Presbyterian and the Baptist Churches in Cameroon. And strange enough, some of those who attack the churches ferociously, are people who are either members of these churches or who have benefitted from the generosity of these Churches.
We,the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province, strongly condemn all these attacks against the Church and her Ministers and we appeal to those who have taken the priests, the Nun and the Christians in Nchang to release them without further delay. We insist on this because this act has now crossed the red line and we must say that “Enough is enough”.
We equally call on those who burnt down the St. Mary’s church, Nchang, and all those who either instructed them or support them from home and abroad, to repent of their evil ways because where they are now, they may find themselves fighting against God and not men (Acts 5:39). And no one ever fights against God and wins.
We express our solidarity and prayerful wishes to the Most Rev. Aloysius Fondong, Bishop of Mamfe, all the Priests, Religious and Christ’s Lay Faithful in the Diocese of Mamfe, and especially to the Christians of St. Mary’s Parish Nchang, during this trying moment.
Looking at all that the Church has done and is still doing for the people of the Regions of the South West and North West Regions of Cameroon in its history, we, the Bishops and the Ministers of the Churches address our people with the strong words of Yahweh to Israel “Our People, what have we done to you, how have we offended you, answer us”(Micah 6:3-4).
It is important to remind these violent offenders of the Church and Her Ministers that what they have done in 2022 AD is equivalent to what King Nebuchadnezzar did in 587 BC when he burnt down the temple in Jerusalem and looted the temple and carried away the priests to Babylon, (2Kings 25:8-19). But they must also remember what happened to the great King Nebuchadnezzar after attacking the house of God: “He was driven from human society and fed on grass like oxen, and was drenched by the dew of heaven; his hair grew long as eagle’s feathers, and his nails became like bird’s claws”(Daniel 4:30).
We call on all Christians to continue to pray for the Church in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and for all her Ministers. We pray for protection and at the same time for forgiveness of the offenders like Christ on the Cross who prayed: “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”(Lk.23:34).
We call on people of goodwill to exercise vigilance over the temporal goods of the Church and her personnel and protect them from the powers of the Evil One. While we pray for protection, we also pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, that peace may return to our Ecclesiastical Province and that a lasting solution may be reached to this problem.
Whatever the case, we give glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ever ask or imagine. We give glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.(Eph.3:20)
Given in Bamenda, Seat of BAPEC, this Saturday, the 17th Day of September, 2022.
All the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda.
President of Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC)