Cameroon Bishops Decry Yet Another Unsolved Murder of a Cleric

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 15, 2017   

"Clergy of Cameroon in particular are pursued by obscure diabolic forces"

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishops of Cameroon are calling on police to render justice as still one more unsolved murder of a fellow cleric unfolds.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon affirmed that the most recent bishop to die was brutally murdered. "We the bishops of Cameroon are convinced that Bp. Jean Marie Benoît Bala did not commit suicide; he was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one too many," they declared.

Last week, Church Militant reported on the torture and murder of Bp. Jean-Marie Benoît Bala of the diocese of Bafia, whose body had been thrown in the Sanaga River June 2. Early news reports had speculated that his death may have been the result of suicide. An autopsy report, however, determined that the bishop had been tortured and killed prior to his body being cast into the river.

Cameroon media reported that Bp. Bala was about to expose the government's alleged involvement in the death of Abbé Armel Djama, who was found dead at the end of May in his room at the Minor Seminary of which he was rector in Bafia, Bala's own archdiocese.

In their statement Tuesday, Cameroon bishops laid out a series of unresolved deaths of fellow clerics from 1988 to 1995:

We have the sad memory of several other prelates, members of the clergy and consecrated persons murdered in circumstances that have not been clarified to this day. In particular, we remember Monsignor Yves Plumey (Ngaoundéré - 1991), Father Joseph Mbassi (Yaoundé - 1988), Father Antony Fontegh (Kumbo - 1990), Sisters in Djoum (1992), Father Engelbert Mveng (Yaoundé – 1995), to name only those.

We feel that the clergy in Cameroon are particularly persecuted by obscure and diabolical forces.

A more in depth and detailed list of these unsolved murders suffered by clerics in Cameroon was included in Church Militant's report last week:

  • In October 1988, Fr. Joseph Mbassi, a journalist, was murdered while investigating the arms trade in Cameroon. His body was found in his room bloodied and mangled on the morning of October 26.
  • Abbot Bernabé Zambo of the Archdiocese of Bertoua died on March 24, 1989. Media speculate he was poisoned by someone as an act of revenge.
  • Father Anthony Fontegh of Kumbo was murdered in 1990.
  • Bishop Yves Plume was strangled to death in his room in Ngaoundéré at the Minor Seminary in September.
  • In 1992, Fr. Amougou of Sangmelima was killed in his rectory.
  • On April 23, 1995, Fr. Engelbert Mveng was found strangled to death with a gash in his head and no items stolen from his room.
  • On April 21, 2001, Fr. Apollinaire Claude Ndi of Nkoltob was found murdered by an unknown man in Yaoundé.
  • On Christmas Eve, 2008, Fr. François Xavier Mekong's body was discovered in one of the showers of the rectory.

The bishops believe their clergy are especially targeted by the forces of Hell. "We feel that the clergy in Cameroon are particularly persecuted by obscure and diabolical forces," their statement reads.

The prelates urged Cameroon police to resolve these murders and bring the criminals to justice. "The bishops demand that all light be shed upon the circumstances and motives of the murder of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala and that the culprits be identified and handed over to Justice to be judged according to the law."

They called upon the State to assume its "duty" to protect human life and "especially that of the ecclesiastical authorities." Urging the murderers to undergo a "radical conversion," the bishops pledged to pray on their behalf. They also called upon the media to report news completely and truthfully.

 

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.

Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli