Pope Francis seeks intimidate release of several priests, nun kidnapped in Cameroon

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, has pleaded for the release of several priests, a nun, and Christians who were abducted in the unrest-ridden anglophone part of Cameroon, which has been beset by a violent armed war since 2017.

The pope expressed his desire for peace in Cameroon during his post-Mass remarks on Sunday in the southern Italian city of Matera.

In a televised address, he stated, “I join in the request of the Bishops of Cameroon for the release of some people kidnapped in the diocese of Mamfe, including five priests and a religious sister.

May the Lord provide that beloved nation’s citizens serenity in their hearts and in their social lives.

On September 16, g

In 2018, a Kenyan missionary priest, Father Cosmos Ondari, was killed in the same diocese.

Earlier this year, the dormitories of the Queen of Rosary College (QRC) Okoyong, a Catholic girls’ school in the diocese, were set on fire.

“The people have suffered terribly and men and women of God have been soft targets of kidnappers, torturers and unscrupulous gunmen” since violence erupted in the regions, the bishops added.

Andrew Nkea, the president of BAPEC and also Archbishop of the Bamenda archdiocese, on Monday said the kidnappers had earlier demanded $100,000 to release the hostages but have now reduced the ransom amount to $50,000.

“The church cannot pay ransom to separatist fighters or to criminals” as this would set a bad precedent, he stated.

The English-speaking North West and South regions of Cameroon have remained volatile since an industrial strike by lawyers and teachers in 2016 over the Francophone-dominated government.

The actions turned violent a year later following a military crackdown. Francophones have dominated all sectors since independence.

Separatist groups sprouted and increased demands for independence of the two regions and the creation on an independent English-speaking country they want called Ambazonia.

Violence spread rapidly, giving birth to armed groups that have been battling with government troops in a bloody conflict since then.

The conflict, in its sixth year now, has caused about 6,000 deaths and a severe humanitarian crisis, with almost 600,000 people internally displaced within the Anglophone and neighbouring regions. There are also over 77,000 persons refugees who fled to Nigeria, according to humanitarian organisations.

unmen who claimed to be members of the Ambazonia separatist movement set fire to St. Mary Catholic Church in Nchang in the Mamfe diocese and abducted five priests, a nun, a catechist, a cook, and a teenager residing at the convent, according to a report by the diocese’s Radio Evangelium.

A day after the tragedy, the Catholic Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC) released a statement in which they expressed their “shock and complete horror” at the fire and kidnappings and their “strong condemnation” of the crimes against the church and its clergy.

 

Source:The East African

 

 

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