Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Catholic Bishops in the Central African Republic (CAR) have, in a collective statement, expressed concerns about violence in the country and called upon all parties in conflict and citizens to be committed to peace. [Members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) in consultation before a meeting with President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. Credit: Courtesy Photo. Magdalene Kahiu – ACI Africa]
In the statement issued Sunday, June 27 and shared with ACI Africa, members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) say the country’s military has made “considerable efforts to regain territories that had been previously conquered by the militia.” The Catholic Bishops however bemoan the fact that “the armed groups are now concentrating their presence in the outskirts and certain localities where they are extending their domination and committing atrocities.”
“We note with dismay the recourse to the prohibited use of anti-personnel mines, which today cause desolation among the population and the death of our fellow citizens,” CECA members say. Cases of insecurity "are aimed at hindering the free movement of people and goods, while looting and burning the vehicles of traders or fellow citizens on the move," the Catholic Bishops further say.
Security challenges, they say, lead to "hardship as economic activities are threatened: herders are taken hostage, farmers deplore the destruction of their farms during the period of uncontrolled human trafficking for years, and the cost of basic necessities and building materials soars."
The Bishops also denounce the infringement of human rights and “inappropriate behavior” by members of the military on mission to recapture territories occupied by armed groups. “In this process of territorial reconquest by Central African Armed Forces (FACA) and the allies, which is appreciated by the majority of the population, we note certain inappropriate behaviors: violation of human rights, substitution for the judicial authority, requisition and occupation of public infrastructures and buildings belonging to individuals,” they say.
The Catholic Church leaders express concerns about the military’s use of the prohibited anti-personnel mines, “which today cause desolation among the population and the death of our fellow citizens.”
Against this backdrop, CECA members urge the people of God in the Central African country to put aside their differences and work for the development of their nation. “In this sensitive phase of our country, we cannot build anything solid without a common shared vision of our history. It is time we put aside personal and selfish interests and positional conflict to unite around the essentials in order to meet the legitimate expectations of the people and their individual and collective well-being,” the Bishops say in their collective statement signed by CECA Chairman, Bishop Nestor-Désiré Nongo Aziagbia. For reconciliation to be effective, the Bishops urge citizens of CAR to “talk to each other.”
“Dialogue in truth makes it possible to transcend multidimensional divisions, banish violence in all its forms and defuse crises,” they say in their June 27 statement. They further note challenges around the sector of education saying a “paradigm shift is needed”. The Bishops call upon the government to “make education the principle of the culture of peace and development and to invest more in the education system through the training and integration of teachers and the construction and equipping of school infrastructure.”
CAR is in need of the integration of “the rule of law, constitutional order, democratic pluralism and the liberation of the territory from illegal armed groups,” they say, adding that such integration would “free the energies of the nation's living forces to accept political pluralism, cultivate tolerance, emphasize merit and true regional integration and international cooperation.” CECA members go on to urge religious leaders in the country to “instill a sense of moral commitment in believers in order to live their faith coherently.”
This way, they say, citizens of CAR will better serve their nation by working for the common good. “Our adherence to God must stimulate us to assume our duties as responsible citizens and for the recovery of our country,” they say. The Bishops further call on young people in the country to put their strength in the reconstruction of the nation saying, “CAR needs young leaders capable of impacting the areas of socio-economic and political life through a solid commitment to work well, the creation of wealth, the honest acquisition of goods, the rigorous management of the common good without letting others decide for you.”
They add that if the young people “give an important place to the life of prayer, communion with God will strengthen and consolidate in you the necessary forces for your commitment to reconciliation, justice and lasting peace.”
“May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Peace and Mother of the Church, strengthen our love for our homeland for a more responsible commitment to peace, stability and development in CAR,” the Catholic Bishops implore in their June 27 statement shared with ACI Africa.
[Magdalene Kahiu – ACI Africa]