Speaking about the crisis which has enveloped the Central African Republic, a senior Christian leader thanked a Catholic charity for supporting the country’s Church.
Bishop Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa, in the north-west of the Central African Republic, described how Aid to the Church in Need had helped the Church’s mission in a country torn apart by conflict.
He said: “Today, 70-80 percent of the country is in the hands of armed rebel groups, so that the majority of the country is no longer under state control.”
Charity supporting the Church in war-torn CAR
Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia praised Catholic charity ACN for its help during the crisis.
He said: “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to ACN for the many different ways in which it has supported us during these difficult moments of crisis.”
ACN aid has included supporting priests and Sisters ministering in a war-torn nation, and rebuilding churches that have been destroyed in the fighting.
The bishop described how the Church was able to help, after clashes in his own diocese between rebel groups Seleka and the RJ led to a mass exodus of people to Markounda in December 2017.
“The Church has been at the forefront of the efforts for reconciliation… We give shelter to the refugees and help those who are in need, without regard to their religion.”
He added: “There is a Catholic priest living there and he is trying to foster a relationship of trust between the refugees, the local people and the rebels.”
The bishop said that there are no government army or UN troops stationed in Markounda or the surrounding region.
Bishop: “It is essential to establish peace and harmony… That is all part of our mission, as witnesses to Christ.”
Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia went on to add: “It is a risky business, and anything could happen, but it is essential to establish peace and harmony.”
The prelate described how he has been among the priests who have suffered at the hands of rebel groups, as the Church ministers to the people and promotes reconciliation.
He said: “I was kidnapped on one occasion, together with some priests. The bishop of Bangassou was threatened.
“A number of priests narrowly escaped death in Bangassou, and some were killed in Bambari.
“That is all part of our mission, as witnesses to Christ.”
ACN has also helped with pastoral aid, including help for the ongoing formation of priests, seminarians and catechists.
Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia told the charity: “I can only express my profound gratitude and continue to be in close communion with you in spirit and in heart.”