Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - "The Archbishop was pleasantly surprised by the news. He did not expect the appoinment to Cardinal at all", said Fr. Edmond Dembele, Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference of Mali, referring to the Country's reaction to the announcement made by Pope Francis who will hold a Consistory on June 28 for the appointment of five new Cardinals, among whom there is His Exc. Mgr. Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako
"The news was very well received in the Country. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta addressed a message to congratulate the Archbishop, expressing his gratitude to Pope Francis. The other Malian Bishops are happy as well and also the Catholic faithful. The community in Bamako expressed its joy with songs and applause. But not only Catholics are happy for the appointment: throughout Mali the news was well received".
This is because - the priest explained - Malian people saw in the appointment of Mgr. Zerbo to Cardinal the Pope's message addressed primarily to the local Church so that the mission that has long begun continues and above all persists in efforts to reconcile the Country. But it is also an appeal launched to Mali to get out of the crisis which started in 2012 and walk on the path to reconciliation and peace".
The 2012 crisis had seen the north of the Country fall into the hands of several jihadist groups. The French intervention, followed by a UN mission, had allowed to free the occupied areas, but, as Fr. Dembele says "Mali must now face an asymmetric conflict with armed groups attacks in the north and center of the Country which cause strong insecurity". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 22/5/2017)