Bishop Nestor Désiré Nongo Aziagbia, of the Diocese of Bossangoa Bishop Nestor Désiré Nongo Aziagbia, of the Diocese of Bossangoa 

CAR: After 125 years of Catholicism, time for introspection

As the Church in the Central African Republic clocks 125 years of evangelization, Bishops have a message of “hope, peace and the re-awakening of consciousness.”

Paul Samasumo – Vatican City

In the context of the 125 years celebrations, in the Central African Republic, and aware of their pastoral responsibilities, the Bishops say their message is one of “hope, peace and the re-awakening of consciousness.

Tribute to missionaries and an active, resilient Catholic faithful

The Pastoral Letter addressed to the ‘Church Family of God’ pays tribute to missionaries and the Catholic faithful, who notwithstanding challenges that have tested their faith continue to soldier-on.

“Our dynamic and joyful liturgical celebrations bring together many of the faithful who are active in Small Christian Communities, Apostolic movements, sodalities and groups that animate the life of our parishes, thus manifesting our way of being Church today. We bless the Lord for his Spirit which guides the Church in Central Africa in its commitment to justice, human rights, (the desire) to improve the living conditions of our people as well as the nonviolent resolution of conflicts especially in the worst moments of our history,” reads the Pastoral Letter.

Much remains to be done 

Nevertheless, the Bishops acknowledge that all is not well in spite of the flourishing faith and joyful liturgies among the people.

“However, it is well known that much remains to be done for the effective recovery of our country. The armed conflict with all its tragic consequences (is a sign) that some Christians still see their work-life as separate from the faith. Others mix magic-fetish practices with sacramental celebrations. Others still are attracted by sects and secret societies (Freemasonry, Rose Cross). Finally, some abandon the great values ​​of unity, dignity, work, respect, solidarity, honesty in favour of easy gain and personal interests,” said the Bishops.

A time for soul searching

The Bishops also have some soul searching questions for their compatriots regarding widespread impunity in the country, dysfunctional judicial mechanisms and the ineffective state authority deployed within the country. The prelates call for concerted efforts to revive essential sectors such as education, health, agro-pastoral development structures and the road infrastructure which have all but collapsed.

Above all, the Bishops have serious misgivings about the mechanisms and operations of the Special Criminal Court (CPS) and the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.

Not all is lost in CAR

Much has improved in the CAR but as the Bishops say, “Even though efforts have been made to reduce violence, we still live in a context of insecurity, fear and anxiety. Despite attempts at disarmament, many heavy and light weapons are still circulating in the country, in full view of everyone.”

The Pastoral Letter was released, this week, in Bangui’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by the Bishop of Bossangoa Diocese and President of the Episcopal Conference, Nestor-Désiré Nongo Aziagbia. Several Bishops were present, and all the Bishops of CAR signed the Pastoral Letter.

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15 January 2020, 08:12