Good Friday killing of priest in Central African Republic

This past Good Friday was marked by the tragic death of Fr. Christ Forman Wilibona, a priest in the diocese of Bossangoa in the northwest of Central African Republic (CAR), who was assassinated. Reports say he was shot six times by armed men while riding on a motorcycle through traffic. He was on his way to Paoua where he was the parish priest at Saint Kisito church.

In a statement released following the killing, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, head of Caritas CAR, said, “We denounce and condemn these barbaric acts from another age. They could potentially compromise the move towards national reconciliation we are longing for.”

Most Rev. Dieudonné is calling on the CAR government to restore the rule of law and for African Union and international forces to disarm militias so people can move freely around the country. He said the killing marked an upsurge in violence against religious, especially those in the northwest of the country.

The killing of Fr. Wilibona came just two days after Bishop Nestor Azagbya Nongo, also of Bossangoa, and three diocesan priests were kidnapped by ex-Seleka militia in Batangafo and later released. “We invite the people of the Central African Republic as well as all men and women of good will to pray for the return of peace and security to our country and to open their hearts to dialogue and reconciliation,” said Archbishop Dieudonné.

The country is living through a conflict that has been ongoing for several years, and has worsened in recent months. Development and Peace has contributed $50,000 towards efforts for the local Caritas to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. The current project is providing emergency aid to cover the basic needs of those displaced, to ensure the health of those affected and allow hundreds of families to regain their livelihoods.