CAR: Promoting a pastoral approach of care, encounter and accompaniment.
Marie José Muando Buabualo - Vatican City.
The civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR) officially ended in 2014. However, the Central African Republic Civil War is an ongoing conflict that involves the government and various rebel groups. Violence continues , with some frequency in different parts of the country, especially in areas that still harbour suspected rebel camps.
Religious denominations, including the Catholic Church, are indispensable in preventing these conflicts from recurring and escalating. During their June 2022 Plenary Assembly in Bambari, the Bishops of CAR emphasised how much the local Church is called to promote pastoral care of welcome and compassion, proximity and accompaniment.
Strengthening social cohesion
For the Bishop of Bouar, the priority in this process remains first the unity and cohesion within the Church itself. “What we are looking for is, first of all, to be united, we as Bishops, and then to send the same message to the faithful and to people of goodwill in order to promote and strengthen social cohesion," said Bishop Gucwa.
To achieve this, the Church in the CAR has set up religious platforms in all dioceses and regions to allow ordinary people to meet and talk about their local challenges. Thanks to these platforms, Bishop Gucwa continues, the problems of religious conflicts have been minimised and, in some cases, completely avoided. To this end, the CAR’s Bishops Conference invites and reminds religious leaders to maintain a language that promotes social cohesion and peace because the population aspires to live together.
To be the voice of the voiceless
The Church is committed to restoring social cohesion. It also denounces other vices that still plague CAR, including corruption, insecurity, and exploitation of vulnerable people. These include the voiceless such as farmers whose fields have been looted and destroyed, girls who are victims of violence and neglected war orphans, says Bishop Gucwa.
Through Caritas’ counselling centres and in partnerships with NGOs, the Bishops of CAR are working to sensitise the faithful and citizens to come to the aid of those in need. The Bishop of Bouar affirms that the Central African Repurblic Bishops Conference also believes strongly in the power of prayer that can contribute to changing hearts for peace in the world.