In his sermon last Sunday, 21 July in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Bangui, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga had clear words to say. “I can’t remain silent while the sons of this country are the victims of the worst kind of barbarism. I can’t remain silent while Central Africans are being tortured and killed, squashed like flies. I can’t remain silent while our mothers and sisters are being raped. I can’t remain silent while the dignity of the Central African is being trampled underfoot, while innocent people are being robbed, while the just and well-earned fruit of our country is being destroyed and looted as though we were in a house of cards. I can’t remain silent when impunity reigns and a dictatorship of arms is being set up.”
At the same time he forgave those who saw him as a “political opponent” or “wrongly” ascribed to him “political ambitions and power aspirations.” He declared: “I am a shepherd, not a political fighter. I dare to hope that one or other person will hear in my voice the Central African people’s cry of suffering.”
The Holy Mass was being held on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Episcopal consecration. On June 26 of this year Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga received the pallium from Pope Francis together with 33 other Archbishops from throughout the world. Last Sunday was celebrated in the capital of the Central African Republic as “Action of Mercy”. At the same time services were held in many countries for peace in the Central African Republic.
This international day of prayer had been initiated by the order of Carmelites in Italy, which maintains five missions in the Central African Republic. The international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” had also invited the faithful throughout the world to pray on this day for the people of this country as it descended into violence and chaos.