AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - "No place is accessible, the roads are impassable due to the terrorists"

Friday, 29 July 2022


Djibo (Agenzia Fides) - "The situation in the country continues to worsen. No place is accessible. It is no longer possible to go to the villages to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments: the roads are impassable due to the terrorists. Pastoral care is destabilized. Many catechists have had to flee". This dramatic testimony comes from Father Pierre Balima, a Burkinabé priest, a student in Pastoral Liturgy in Padua. The priest recounted the sufferings that Christians are experiencing in his country. "Two parishes have been closed and, in the others, the priests are no longer able to go out for visits to the villages. If you have to travel, go to another parish, or meet the bishop at the cathedral, you need a military escort. There are great risks on the road and you never know if you can get to your destination alive. All pastoral activities have been suspended: no masses in the villages, catechism classes, meetings of Catholic movements and associations - continues Fr. Balima. European missionaries were invited to leave the diocese to go to safer areas. The terrorists continue with the kidnappings, executions of influential people (priests, catechists, religious leaders, teachers, administrators ...), frighten the population with verbal threats and kill all those who do not obey. Often they break into Christian places of worship during celebrations, forcing them to leave Christian practice to embrace the Muslim religion".
The story continues with the details of fires in several churches in the villages: "in the month of March alone, two were burned. 37 soldiers and more than 10 civilians have been killed. Several young people were kidnapped. Almost all schools, outside the big cities, are closed - explains the missionary. Three priests were killed. Fr. Joël Yougbare, a priest of my diocese, was kidnapped three years ago and there has been no news since then (see Fides, 20/3/2019)".
"Given the serious danger we run, we have been asked to close the parishes. The proposal was rejected by the bishop and all the priests. We continue our mission, even if with many limitations. As Pope Francis said for World Mission Day: 'We cannot be silent about what we have seen and heard' ". Burkina Faso has always been a country of peace and joy, despite poverty but, since 2015, it has been under the pressure of terrorist attacks. The first attack took place in the parish of Fr. Balima, 150 meters from the rectory. "For several days we lived in anguish: every evening we had to turn off the light and hide under the bed. Then terrorism progressively spread throughout the country and the Sahel region, where my Djibo parish is located, and is among the hardest hit". (AP/PB) (Agenzia Fides, 29/7/2022)