The pastoral activity of the Church is increasingly undermined in Africa by a lack of security. From Cote D’Ivoire to Nigeria, to Congo Kinshasa, priests are assassinated by armed gangs.
On the 23rd April, a Catholic priest was killed in a road robbery in Cote d’Ivoire. Father Bernardin Brou Aka Daniel was assistant parish priest at Sacred Heart Parish Koun-Abronso diocese of Abengourou, in the east of the country. Fr. Bernardin was returning to his parish on the Agnibilekro – Koun-Fao road after having meetings in Abengourou. Alongside him in the car was Father Théophile Ahi. In the town of Nianda, the car was forced to slow down because there was a truck stranded in the middle of the road. Fr. Bernardin, who was driving, tried to avoid the obstacle but was hit by shots fired by two armed men who appeared all of a sudden.
The wounded priest was made to stop, the bandits asked the priests for money. Fr. Bernardin replied that they were not carrying much money. Without warning, the bandits opened fire and the priest was shot in the abdomen. The criminals were forced to interrupt the attack when a second vehicle appeared.
Fr. Bernardin, who was losing blood very quickly, resumed his place at the wheel, and managed to reach Agnibilékrou, where he was admitted to the local hospital where, despite the efforts of doctors, he died of his wounds. Rev Bernardin Brou Aka Daniel born in December 1976, was ordained a priest in 2013.
Fr. Donald Zagore, a member of the Society of African Missions, said “One thing is certain, the Church will never stop her missionary work, even if her priests are in danger, because as our Master Jesus Christ teaches us, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13). This is why ‘the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (Jn 10:13). But the Church must be able to work in safety and serenity in order to better serve.”
“It is up to the political governments of our African countries to work seriously to guarantee safety for all citizens, irrespective of political, cultural or religious affiliation. We live in an Africa that truly needs to solve problems of security”, continued Fr. Zagore.
“The challenges to stop armed conflict, disarm militia groups, effectively enactment of programmes for the social integration of armed militia groups, reduce unemployment, institute education and school systems as a source of a better future for our young people, remain present and vital if we are to win the battle for security on our continent. The Church in Africa must not stop on the fringes, she must be ever more visible and perceptible. This demands efficacious cooperation with the governments of our respective countries”, concluded Fr. Donald.