Burkina Faso victims ‘martyrs for the faith’

Burkina Faso victims ‘martyrs for the faith’ Photo: Teller Report

Catholic leaders in Burkina Faso appealed for unity and solidarity after two attacks on Catholics in two days left 10 laypeople and a priest dead.

“We have been working together for years – Muslims, Protestants, Catholics and followers of traditional religions, always walking hand in hand,” said Archbishop Seraphin Rouamba of Koupela. “In view of this, it isn’t necessary for such tragic acts to divide us.”

The archbishop was preaching at the funeral of Fr Simeon Yampa, a diocesan representative for interreligious dialogue, who was shot dead with five parishioners when Islamists attacked their church at Dablo during Mass May 12.

Bishop Theophile Nare of Kaya described the murdered Catholics as “martyrs for the faith” and said the “despairing community” had been comforted by a May 13 message of sympathy from Pope Francis. The bishop said those responsible for “barbaric acts at the moment of consecration” were “attacking God himself”, who would ultimately triumph if Catholics showed “courage and faith”.

Burkina Faso’s national press agency, AIB, reported another group of attackers had stopped a church procession on May 13 at Zimtenga, killing four lay Catholics and destroying a statue of Mary after allowing children to escape.