There is “grave danger” of the normalisation of violence against Christians around the world after two attacks in two days saw 10 Catholics killed in Burkino Faso, an Irish charity has warned.
Following yet another attack on a church that killed six people including a priest over the weekend in the African nation, the director of Aid to the Church in Need Ireland called the faithful to remember that the victims are martyrs.
Michael Kinsella told this paper that if we diminish the individual’s martyrdom, “we diminish their memory and their sacrifice, as a charity one of our main focuses is on ensuring that the blood that has been shed is not just a call to witness”.
“We are called to be witnesses to the witnesses, it’s not just a call to their memory and their sacrifice, it’s a called to prayer and conversion to those who are doing this.”
He added the killing of Christians is happening almost every week across Africa, saying in some countries “the very act of being a Christian is an act of sedition”.
“If we’re serious about protecting the rights of Christians to express their faith safely in Africa then we should look to our home as well about the rights of Catholics expressing and living their faith culturally in Ireland.”
The attack in Burkino Faso came on the same day that Catholics returned to Mass in Sri Lanka: Sunday, May 12. All churches were closed in the country for three weeks because of security concerns after over 250 people were killed on Easter Sunday in a terrorist attack claimed by ISIS that targeted Catholic churches and hotels.
Agence France-Presse said up to 30 armed assailants had entered Dablo’s Catholic Church on motorcycles and shot at churchgoers attempting to escape. It added that gunmen had burned the church and nearby buildings after killing Father Yampa (34). They also raided and destroyed a local health centre.
The following day 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.
It said Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou, president of the country’s bishops’ conference, conveyed the news to a May 13-20 plenary assembly of bishops from the West African episcopal conference, which was meeting in Ouagadougou.
The attacks are the latest against Christian places of worship in Burkina Faso, whose mostly Muslim-inhabited northern provinces have been targeted by jihadist groups since the October 2014 oust of President Blaise Compaore.