A Catholic priest who worked to build peace between Christians and Muslims, Fr. Firmin Gbagoua, was murdered in his Church presbytery by armed gunmen:
The Catholic Church in the Central African Republic is again in shock after the killing of the vicar general of Bambari, in the centre of the country, on Friday night.
Father Firmin Gbagoua, 52, was fatally wounded, when unidentified gunmen stormed the presbytery of St. Joseph’s Cathedral of Bambari at around 7pm.
The assailants, said to be in large numbers, infiltrated the compound, asking for money, Msgr. Nestor Nongo Aziagbia, vice-president of the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic, told World Watch Monitor.
As Fr. Firmin had no money and in order to preserve the lives of his colleagues, he invited the armed men to follow him into his bedroom and take what they wanted.
Witnesses said they then heard raised voices, followed by a gunshot.
“When the other Fathers arrived in the room, they found Fr. Firmin lying in his blood,” said Msgr. Aziagbia. “He was hit by a bullet in his abdomen.”
The UN peacekeepers, whose checkpoint was just 300 metres away, arrived at the scene only after the assailants had escaped.
Fr. Firmin Gbagoua was quickly taken to the hospital in Bambari. “Unfortunately, the efforts made by the medical team were not enough to save the life of our brother Firmin,” said Msgr. Aziagbia. “The bullet which hit him in the abdomen caused a big hole in his back, at the spine. He died as a result of a haemorrhage.”
Fr. Firmin Gbagoua was buried on Saturday afternoon in the missionary cemetery of Saint Joseph, in Bambari.
Another peacemaker silenced
As the vicar general of the Diocese of Bambari, Fr. Gbagoua had been at the front line of interreligious efforts between Christians and Muslims. Some believe that this commitment may have earned him enmity among some people.
“It is impossible to describe this death as an accident or simply a robbery that has gone wrong,” commented a nun who wanted to remain anonymous. “Fr. Firmin was known to everyone and even armed groups.”
His killing is the latest of a series of attacks targeting Catholic priests in CAR. (source)
Central African Republic has been filled with violence between Muslims and Christians. Pope Francis visited there three years ago in November 2015 as a sign of good will to attempt to build peace, and while good efforts have been made, the violence still continues.
Given the conflict between the Christians and the Muslims, it is likely that it was Muslim gunmen. However, that has not been definitively shown yet.
While less likely, the Christians of CAR can also act in ways that are unchristian. This is not just violence, but heinous and unjustified violence, such as the case of Ouandja Magloire, a “Christian” man who, in response to Muslims murdering his pregnant wife, murdered a Muslim man and ate his leg on camera:
[Ouandja] saw a man sitting on the minibus – he thought he looked Muslim so he decided to follow the bus. More and more people joined him until he was at the head of a mob.
“We followed him,” he said. “If he reached the intersection, the Burundians would protect him. So we told the minibus driver to stop. The driver said: ‘You’re right. He is a Muslim.'”
He described what happened after the man was dragged off the bus: “I kicked his legs out from under him. He fell down. I stabbed his eyes.
“Muslim! Muslim! Muslim! I stabbed him in the head. I poured petrol on him. I burned him. Then I ate his leg, the whole thing right down to the white bone. That’s why people call me Mad Dog.”
On the video, “Mad Dog” is seen happily chewing, his cheeks bulging. He waves a leg about in between mouthfuls. I returned to the question of why he had done this.
“Because I am angry,” he said. He had no other explanation.
During our interview, he betrayed no sign of that anger, or of pride, or regret, or of any emotion at all. His tone was neutral, his eyes and face blank. (source)
There is also a possibility it may be homosexuals. In neighboring Cameroon, a group of homosexual Catholic priests who were angry at their bishop for telling them to stop engaging in the sin of Sodom took the bishop, murdered him, tied up his body and threw it in a local river:
Clergy in a Cameroon diocese were publicly accused during a memorial service earlier this month of masterminding the assassination of their bishop.
The current administrator of the diocese said during the homily that the bishop did not commit suicide but was killed because he stood up against homosexuals in the Church and the priesthood.
“Shame to all those people in black suits and black spectacles always sitting in the front rows of the Church,” Monsignor Joseph Akonga Essomba said during the August 3 service for deceased Bishop Jean Marie Benoit Bala of Bafia, Cameroon.
“Shame to all those priests who have come here pretending to sympathize. These are the people who killed our bishop, because he said ‘no’ to the homosexuality perpetrated by those priests,” said Akonga, as reported by Crux Now. (source, source)
While the Muslims are the most likely suspect, there is more than one possible group that cannot be ruled out.
It is easy to blame the Muslims for violence, and often times they are to be blamed because the dysfunction caused by Islam is a manifestation of its diordered theology. At the same time, one must be careful not to use Islam as the excuse for other problems, or to say that the crime was Muslims when perhaps it was something else. This is especially so in this case, since given there is so much tension on either side in the CAR conflict, a person without morals could easily give the appearance of belonging to either group in order to cause violence by inflaming the passions of either group, whose impulses are already difficult to restrain due to the prolonged conflict and could be provoked to violence with ease.