DECLARATION OF THE BISHOPS OF CAMEROON
Following the tragic death of His Exc. Mgr Jean Marie Benoît BALA,
Bishop of Bafia; The Bishops of Cameroon met in extraordinary plenary session at the headquarters of the National Episcopal Conference in Mvolyé on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. At the end of this assembly, the Bishops declared:
1 / The Catholic Church in Cameroon experiences a difficult and delicate moment in its history and mission. Indeed, on the morning of Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the car of Monsignor Jean Marie Benoît BALA, Bishop of Bafia, was in an abnormal parking position on the Bridge of Childhood at the place Ebebda, in the direction of Bafia . The Bishop was reported missing.
2 / As soon as the Bishop disappears, the civil and religious authorities and the public authorities go to the scene. Oriented by a strange message found on the front seat of the car, next to his national identity card and other personal pieces, they ordered the Fire Brigade, to undertake the searches of the body From the Bishop to the bottom of the river. The search continues until the morning of Friday, June 2, 2017, when the remains of the Bishop were found by a fisherman a few kilometers from the Childhood Bridge at Tsang and brought back to the bank by the elements of Defense forces. The body was identified by Our Ladies Piero PIOPPO, Apostolic Nuncio in Cameroon, Samuel KLEDA, President of the Episcopal Conference, Jean MBARGA Archbishop of Yaounde, in the presence of the civil and administrative authorities, including the Governor of the Central Region. The mortal remains were taken to the Yaoundé General Hospital.
3 / On Saturday, June 3, 2017, a notice of death and a message of condolence were addressed to the sons and daughters 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 / At present, the body is at the disposal of the judicial authorities with a view to investigating the circumstances, the exact causes and the perpetrators of this heinous and unacceptable crime.
5 / The tragic death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA shocked and upset the People of God, all Cameroonians and international opinion. Given the initial findings, We, the Bishops of Cameroon, affirm that Mons. Jean Marie Benoît BALA did not commit suicide; He was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one more.
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 to 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 obscure and diabolical forces.
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 law.
That the State should assume its duty to protect human life, especially the ecclesiastical authorities.
The Bishops also await the official conclusions of the inquiry.
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 respect for the dignity of the human person, truth, modesty and discernment in the treatment of certain information.
To all those who have mobilized,
To the populations of Ebebda and its surroundings,
9 / The Bishops thanked 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 the People of God,
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
(unedited by Journal du Cameroun)