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Catholic Bishops in CAR Highlight Country’s Challenges, Lament Negative Media Reports

Bishops in the Central African Republic (CAR) with President Faustin Archange Touadera. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in the Central African Republic (CAR) have, in a collective statement, highlighted challenges the country is facing and lamented negative media reports, which they say tarnish the reputation of the country and cause “great economic damage”.

In the statement issued January 14 and shared with ACI Africa, members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) express concern about abuses by armed groups, “unbridled exploitation” of the country’s resources, corruption, and a collapse of the education system, among other challenges.

“Some armed groups remain active and commit abuses,” CECA members say, and add, “Our natural, mining and forestry resources are being plundered. We are now witnessing the abusive and unbridled exploitation of these resources by foreigners with the complicity of certain compatriots.”

The Catholic Bishops in CAR further say, “The degradation and destruction of our environment is frightening.”

They also express concern about “the decay and collapse of the national education system with the rise in vandalism, the loss of a sense of patriotism, the culture of violence and mob justice.”

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“Corruption, illicit enrichment, mismanagement, incompetence and lack of professional ethics in certain state services, abuse of authority and injustice are all symptoms that reflect and expose the crisis of fundamental moral values,” CECA members say in the five-page statement signed by the nine Catholic Bishops in CAR.

They note that the absence of civic education courses, which were formerly offered in schools with the aim of instilling civic responsibilities and the culture of patriotism “constitutes a serious failure in the process of nation building.”

“A nation is not built on the basis of anti-values, but through the patient, arduous but noble work of educating people in the values that will make them true citizens committed to the service of their country and their homeland,” Catholic Bishops in CAR say in their January 14 statement.

CECA members go on to bemoan negative media reports that they say tarnish the image of their country. 

“It is with great dismay that we are witnessing media reports and disinformation campaigns aimed at tarnishing the image and reputation of our country in order to maintain conflicting tensions in defiance of the sovereignty of the Central African State,” they say.

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The Catholic Bishops caution against the negative reporting about CAR. They say that the reports, which have the effect of marginalizing and isolating their country are “causing great economic damage in the partnership with financial institutions and international donors that support the fragile economy of the Central African Republic.”

In their message titled, “Let's Walk Together in the Midst of a Changing Society,” CECA members go on to provide some way forward.

They suggest that there be a “sincere and inclusive dialogue that will unite the country amid the violence and political differences.”

“We strongly hope that this dialogue should not become a platform for impunity. There is no question of sacrificing the demands of justice on the altar of politics,” the Catholic Bishops in CAR say in their statement shared with ACI Africa.

They clarify, “An authentic and successful dialogue on the basis of our common experiences of suffering is one in which there is also room for dissonance and disagreement.”

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“Let us give our country the chance to live in peace at last! Let us give our country the opportunity to regain its place in the concert of nations and to be respected as a sovereign nation in its own right,” CECA members say.

They add, “If the present and the political horizon of our country seem uncertain because of diplomatic and geopolitical tensions, of an accentuated crisis of values or unity, we believe that the spirit of the synod can inspire the march of our people and to nourish its deepest aspirations.”

The Catholic Church leaders share sentiments of hope saying, “Another Central African Republic where its sons and daughters live in harmony and peace is possible.”

“Our collective memory bears so many scars from a traumatic national historical past that it can be described as a collective memory of suffering,” the Catholic Bishops say, and add, “Our experiences of suffering are opportunities to unite us in order to build the Central African Republic together.”

They note that there is no possible future “without a work of memory and mourning of the past that allows the Central African people to heal the traumas of the past that haunt them; make the voices of victims heard and without an exercise in truth and accountability that inflicts punishment and sanctions on the guilty.”

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“Walking together does not level the differences and specificities of our identity,” CECA members say, and explain, “Difference is neither a flaw nor a defect, but rather a richness and a gift from God. Yes, unity does not mean uniformity.”

“May the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, make the unfading sun of truth, justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace rise over the Central African Republic, our common home,” the Catholic Bishops implore in their January 14 statement shared with ACI Africa.