Wednesday, 14 June 2017

EXCLUSIVE On Bishop Balla's Death -- Bishops Of Cameroon Issue Strongly Worded Press Release Stating 'Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA Did Not Commit Suicide -- He Was Brutally Murdered.

The Bishops of Cameroon met in extraordinary plenary session at the headquarters of the National Episcopal Conference in Mvolyé on Tuesday 13 June 2017.

At the end of this assembly, the Bishops declared as follows:

1. The Catholic Church in Cameroon is currently going through very a difficult and delicate moment in its history and mission. Indeed, on the morning of Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the car of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA, Bishop of Bafia, was located parked abnormally on the Bridge at the place Ebebda. The Bishop was reported missing.

2. As soon as the Bishop was declared missing, the civil and religious authorities and the government officials descended to the scene. There was a strange message found on the front seat of the car, next to his national identity card and other personal belongings stating that “I AM IN WATER”. The Army Rescue Unit was immediately ordered to undertake the search of the Bishop from the river, which was not located immediately. The search continued until the morning of Friday June 2, 2017, when the remains of the Bishop was found by a fisherman a few kilometers from the said Bridge at Tsang and brought back to the bank of River Sanaga by the elements of the Cameroon Defense forces. The body was identified by His Excellency Piero PIOPPO, Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon, Arch. Bishop Samuel KLEDA, President of the Episcopal Conference, and Arch. Bishop Jean MBARGA Archbishop of Yaounde, in the presence of the civil and administrative authorities, including the Governor of the Centre Region. The mortal remains were then taken to the Yaoundé General Hospital.
Bishops Of Cameroon
3. On Saturday, June 3, 2017, a notice officially announcing the death of the Bishop and a message of condolence were addressed to the worshipers of the Diocese of Bafia and to the natural family of the deceased by the President of the Episcopal Conference and the Archbishop of Yaounde.

4. Currently, the body is at the disposal of Cameroon judicial authorities with in order to conduct appropriate investigations on the circumstances that surrounded the the death of the Bishop, and also to determine the exact cause of death and to locate the perpetrators of this heinous and unacceptable crime.

5. The tragic death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA shocked and upset all Christians, Cameroonians and international community. Given the initial findings, We, the Bishops of Cameroon, affirm that Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA did not commit suicide; He was brutally murdered. This is another murder again on a church leader, stating this is already too much.
6. We have the sad recollection of several other prelates, members of the clergy and consecrated persons who have been murdered under conditions that have not been elucidated till this day. These include Monsignor Yves PLUMEY (Ngaoundéré – 1991), Abbé Joseph MBASSI (Yaoundé – 1988), Father Antony FONTEGH (Kumbo-1990), the Sisters of Djoum (in 1992), Father Engelbert MVENG To quote that.

We feel that the clergy in Cameroon are particularly persecuted by an obscure and diabolical force.

To the State of Cameroon,

7. The Bishops demand that all the light be given on the circumstances and motives of the assassination of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA.

That the culprits be identified and delivered to the Justice to be judged according to the laws in place. That the State should assume its duty to protect human life, especially that of ecclesiastical authorities.

The Bishops will also await the official conclusions of the inquiry/investigations.

To the murderers, The Bishops pray for them and ask them to embark on a process of urgent and radical conversion.

* To media men and social networking users,

8. The Bishops ask them to renounce defamation, lies, calumnies, and recommend them to have respect for the dignity of the human person, truth, modesty and discernment in the treatment of certain information.

To all those who were mobilized in the search of the Bishop, To the populations of Ebebda and its surroundings,

9 . The Bishops thank them for their efforts to search for the body of the Bishop, often at the risk of their own lives.

To the faithful of the diocese of Bafia,
To the natural family of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA,
To all Christian faithfuls,
10. We say to you: keep courage, Christ has conquered the world (cf. Jn 16:33). Your Pastors carry with you the pain of this sad disappearance. Let not your faith fail. Draw the necessary forces in the Eucharistic celebrations, the prayers of your departed Pastors and also for peace and justice in our country.

11. That the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Our Lady of Sorrows, Patroness of Cameroon, accompanies us in this hard trial.

Done at Yaounde, on 13 June 2017

For the Bishops of Cameroon, † Samuel KLEDA
Archbishop of Douala, President of the NCPC

Translated by Tata Nelson Berinyuy

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