- Jan 25, 2020
Two thousand Muslims have taken refuge in the cathedral of Bangassou, guarded by UN peacekeepers. The rising violence between the Anti-Balakas (composed of mostly Christians and animists), and the predominantly-Muslim Séléka rebels dates to 2013.
Participants at a meeting of central African bishops this week recommended inter-religious dialogue as the way forward for the sub-region. They also reiterated claims that the death of Cameroonian Bishop Jean-Marie Benoît Balla was not a suicide, but that he was “brutally assassinated.”
“Painful news unfortunately comes from the Central African Republic, which I carry in my heart, especially after my visit in November 2015,” the pope said after clashes surged in the country causing many victims. Pope Francis also thanked “all those who work for the good of the people and for peaceful coexistence.”
U.N. peacekeeping forces regained control of Muslim majority areas in the Central African Republic after Christian rebels had attacked them, killing dozens of civilians. Catholic leaders have failed so far in their efforts to convince parties to lay down their weapons and to work for peace.
Two Catholic missions in Central African Republic about 270 miles from the capital, Bangui, were targeted by former militants. According to the vice president of the Central African Republic bishops’ conference the violence was not motivated by religious reasons but economic ones.
Right now, geopolitical analysts and anti-terrorism experts may not see anti-Christian persecution around the world as a real security risk, in part because Christians tend not to fight back. Africa, and Nigeria in particular, illustrates that you can’t count on such forbearance enduring forever.