Bishop in Central African Republic: Pray the Holy Spirit will give us strength, if necessary, to be martyrs

A few weeks ago in Bangui the final phase of peace agreements for the Central African Republic was signed. It was between the government and the various armed groups who have been destroying the country for the past six years.

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou, Central African Republic
“Inclusive government has already begun as the agreements have been signed. Many of the warlords signed it with a scribble. This is because they cannot write or read. So now a new government has been born, where the prime minister is one of the Central African warlords.”

This is the denunciation of Bishop of Bangassou,  Juan José Aguirre. He is a Spanish Comboni missionary who has been living in the Central African Republic for 38 years. He says the terms for peace are poisonous. This because the warlords, who have signed these peace agreements, control 80 percent of the country.

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou, Central African Republic
“Most of the warlords are foreigners. They are Nigerians, Chadians, Sudanese and Darfurians. We are now as we were before. This is waiting to see what happens. If those who were attacking and ruthlessly trampling on us the Central African people for the last five years, and on my area in Bangassou, will continue to do so or not.”

The bishop denounces the greed that is motivating a war presented to the world as a confrontation between Christians and Muslims. This is when the reality is actually attempt to once again plunder Africa.

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou, Central African Republic
“It is fuel for Muslims and non-Muslims to fight in Central Africa. It is a smokescreen to cover up these mercenaries’ real desire to enter the country. This is to occupy Central Africa, to take the gold, diamonds, manganese, cobalt, mercury mines. This is to enrich themselves with a territory that is very vast and is not inhabited with many pastures as well.”

However, in the midst of this situation, the Church still there. This is when NGO’s will not risk remaining on the ground. The bishop of Bangassou himself had to face terrible circumstances. For example, he acted as a human shield, during an attack on a mosque, in order to save the lives of more than 2,000 Muslims.

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou, Central African Republic
“When two of my priests and I found out, while putting on our white cassocks, we stood in front of the mosque and with open arms said, ‘don’t shoot,’ ‘don’t shoot. The law of war doesn’t allow you to shoot women and children. Do not shoot.’”

These people, whom Bishop Aguirre saved are now welcomed by the Church at the seminary in Bangassou.

MSGR. JUAN JOSÉ AGUIRRE
Bishop of Bangassou, Central African Republic
“I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. I had a AK-47 pointed at my head. So many people made this gesture to me when I passed them.”  “We need everyone to pray for us. This is so the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to be witnesses. This is so that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength, if necessary, to be martyrs, shedding our blood for the Church and for the Lord. We need everyone to pray that violence will disappear.”

The bishop visited Europe after receiving an invitation from the Pontifical Foundation for Aid to the Church in Need.

Bishop Aguirre says in 2018 five priests were killed in the Central African Republic. This crime was committed during massacres against unarmed people. The attacks were committed by militiamen, mostly mercenaries. They are trying to change Africa by plundering its natural resources at the cost of innocent lives.