Interfaith peace bid continues despite CAR violence

An archbishop in the Central African Republic has vowed to persist in interfaith peace efforts, after at least 42 people were killed and 27,000 forced to flee during five days of violence between Christian and Muslim groups in the capital Bangui.

The city’s Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga, president of the national bishops’ conference, said he will gather Catholics in parishes to pray for the success of a national agreement to end the violence, and that he was confident Pope Francis’ planned November 29-30 visit would still take place.

Bossangoa’s Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo-Aziagbia, the conference’s vice-president, is not so hopeful. Explaining that the country’s Catholic bishops are deeply disturbed by the violence, he said, “If stability is not re-established, that might affect a number of things, including the papal visit”.

Dr Nzapalainga said barricades and a curfew have prevented him from visiting parishes, but he had visited local hospitals and would visit the affected communities with members of the country’s Interfaith Peace Platform. 

Insisting that the crisis was not a confessional one, and that he had given shelter to six Muslims who feared for their lives and to a group of imams, he said, “There’s been too much death and suffering for us to surrender to some new wave of hatred and revenge,” continuing, “So I’ll continue to spread a common message of peace with my Muslim and Protestant colleagues.”