BURKINA FASO – BISHOP SPEAKS TO ACN AFTER ISLAMIST ATTACK ON CHRISTIANS ON SUNDAY:
“WE CHRISTIANS ARE PERSECUTED, WHILE THE WEST REMAINS INDIFFERENT – EVEN SELLING ARMS TO THE TERRORISTS INSTEAD OF STOPPING THEM”
by Marta Petrosillo.
“There is an ongoing persecution of Christians. For months we bishops have been denouncing what is happening in Burkina Faso, but nobody is listening to us. Evidently they are more concerned with protecting their own interests.” This was the reaction of Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya, in the northern central region of the country, following yet another attack deliberately targeting Christians in Burkina Faso, which took place on Sunday. Terrorists attacked a Protestant church in the governorate of Fada N’Gourma, close to the border with Niger, in the east of the country, killing 14 Christians.
“No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, just as no one claimed responsibility for the previous ones”, the Bishop told ACN. “So we don’t know whether it is one group or several groups that are involved. What is certain, however, is that they are waging an Islamist campaign and trying to provoke a conflict between the religions in a country where Christians and Muslims have always lived peaceably side by side.”
Bishop Kientega pointed out that the authors of these crimes are attempting to sow terror within the Christian community, not least in order to be able to seize their land and property. Following the violence, very many Christians have abandoned their homes and fled the area, and now there are thousands of internal refugees, for whom the Church is caring.
Since the beginning of this year over 60 Christians have been murdered in Burkina Faso, in the face of a seeming total lack of interest in the West. The Bishop explained how this indifference had been commented on during a recent meeting of the Bishops’ Conferences of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast and Ghana, in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. “We wondered how it could be possible that so many people know nothing of our situation and how Western governments and Western media are simply not making any mention of it. Evidently, many of the Western powers have an interest in seeing the violence continue, and their profits are more important than our lives .”
Meanwhile, Christians in Burkina Faso are being increasingly targeted. And “the unprecedented level of insecurity”, as Bishop Kientega describes it, is greatly limiting the field of action of the Church, whose priests can no longer travel to the villages to minister to their own Christian faithful.
Faced with this critical situation, Bishop Kientega has made a fresh appeal, via ACN, to the international community: “The world should look and see what is happening in Burkina Faso and the Western powers should stop those who are committing these crimes, instead of selling them the weapons that they are using to kill the Christians. We are being persecuted; but we retain our trust in the Lord and hope that all this may soon come to an end. Thank you to all of you for your prayers.”