Rev Joseph Akonga, Parish Priest of Essos, Yaounde Archdiocese did not mince his words when he took to the pulpit for a homily during the funeral mass of Mgr Jean Marie Benoît Balla of the Diocese of Bafia. The deceased died under controversial circumstances and the cause of his death is still disputed by government and the Catholic Church. While government hang’s on a yet controversial autopsy to conclude he drowned, the church maintains he was “brutally murdered”.
Speaking about the death of the prelate, Rev Akonga noted that he had consulted the French dictionary and realised that there are two meanings of the word to drown. The first of which, he said, means “to drown someone or an animal”. He pointed out that the one referring of someone drowning by himself comes in the second place. The explanation was greeted by a thunderous applause from the congregation- an applause which lasted about 60seconds.
Rev Akonga took time to explain how close he was to the late Bishop. He said they prayed together in the Yaounde Cathedral the day the deceased was elevated to the rank of Bishop.
In an apparent attempt to cast more doubts on government claims that the bishop might have committed suicide by drowning, the Essos Parish Priest said “He was an excellent swimmer to the point that I cannot believe that he drowned. Jean could never have drowned. No!” he stated emphatically. He also recounted how they use to swim together; “he would wave at us 200meters away when we are still struggling at the banks of the river in Batanga”.
He also noted that “life is sacred, very sacred and should not be touched”.
Towards the end of his closed to 30minute-long homily which centred on persecution of the church and its people, Rev Atonga decide to take the bulls by the horns. “Our church has been offered to forces of darkness. It has been offered to hell by satan’s angels and some fake members of this church. Fake members who are helping to destroy the church from within.” he stated and waited for the end of another long applause which embraced his statements- before he continued.
“We have many fake brothers in this church. I am obliged to ask at the end of this homily; who is killing Catholic priests in this country? I am talking to you who hide in the dark always planning to do evil…when you attack the church, you attack Christ” he continued. He also said the church will not fall in the hands of the forces of darkness because the power of the light of Christ is stronger.