By Joachim Teigen
On 3 December in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the President of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, Bishop Alexandre Yikyi Bazié, inaugurated the new headquarters of the Commission, together with his predecessor and the German ambassador to Burkina Faso.
Ambassador Ingo Herbert’s presence was due to the considerable amount of funding which had come from the German Catholic NGO “Misereor” in the construction of the building, which was solemnly blessed on the occasion.
The inauguration took place just a few days after 14 Protestant worshippers had been killed by suspected Islamist terrorists in the small West African country, an action decried by Burkina Faso’s Catholic bishops as an act of “anti-Christian persecution” aimed at creating a conflict between Christians and Muslims.
Over 60 Christians have been killed in the country this year alone, and the 14 Protestants who were shot dead whilst attending a Sunday service last week were commemorated with a minute of silence during the inauguration ceremony.
During a Wednesday General Audience in November, Pope Francis also appealed strongly for increased efforts for peace in the region, saying: “I encourage civil and religious authorities and all those motivated by good will to multiply their efforts […] to promote interreligious dialogue and harmony”
“Who wants peace, cultivates justice”
“We do not claim to be the only ones to work for the construction of a just and peaceful world,” Bishop Bazié said, “but we want to revitalize this process together, because today Burkina Faso needs it more than ever”.
The Commission whose mission is to defend the human rights of the weak, the oppressed and the excluded, was founded in 2003.
That its work is even more needed 16 years later, Bishop Bazié explained with the fact that “peace is not the task of a day, but a long-term commitment”. One the commission hopes to work for “responsibly, and coordinated with other institutions engaged in the same sector”.
As a token of their expressed goals, the new building was constructed using local materials and with respect for the environment, so as not to cause any harm to the needs of the local population.