Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - “Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala did not commit suicide; he was brutally murdered”. The news was announced in a statement released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Cameroon regarding the death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala, of the diocese of Bafia, whose body was found in the River Sanaga on 2 June.
On the morning of 31 March the bishop’s abandoned car was found on a bridge, the Pont de l’Enfance, but the bishop was not found. A “strange message (…) was found in the car with his identity card and other personal belongings” the report to Fides continues.
At first people thought he must have committed suicide and the authorities sent frogmen to the scene in search of the body, to no avail. Recently, on 2 June, the earthly remains of Bishop Bala were found by a fisherman a few kilometers from Pont de l’Enfance.
“The body is now at the disposal of the authorities investigating the case to discover the causes and the perpetrators of this hateful, unacceptable crime. (…) We the bishops of Cameroon are convinced that Bishop Jean Marie Benoît did not commit suicide; he was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one too many” the statement declares.
The bishops point out “the sad list of bishops, members of the clergy and consecrated persons assassinated in circumstance still no clear today. In particular we remember Mons. Yves Plumey, Emeritus archbishop of Garoua (assassinated in Ngaoundéré – 1991), Fr Joseph Mbassi (Yaoundé - 1988), Fr. Antony Fontegh (Kumbo-1990), Sisters in Djoum (1992), Fr. Engelbert Mveng (Yaoundé – 1995), to mention only a few”.
“We have the impression that the clergy of Cameroon in particular is pursued by obscure diabolic forces ” the Cameroonian bishops declare .
The bishops call for “complete light to be shed on the circumstances and the motivation of the murder of Bishop Bala, and demand that those responsible be identified and handed over to justice to be judged by the law of the land”.
They also urge the State “to assume the noble task of protecting human life”; they ask the media and all who use social media not to diffuse fake news and to respect the dignity of human persons. Lastly the Bishops appeal to the assassins of Bishop Bala’s “to strive for urgent and radical conversion”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 14/6/2017)