Attack on Parish, Abduction of Priests, Nun “heinous act”: Bishops of Bamenda, Cameroon

St. Mary's Catholic Nchang Parish of Cameroon's Mamfe Diocese razed to ashes on 16 September 2022.Credit: Friends of Mamfe Diocese/Facebook

Catholic Bishops belonging to the Bamenda Province in Cameroon have termed as a “heinous act” that “has now crossed the red line” the September 16 arson attack on St. Mary's Catholic Nchang Parish of the country’s Mamfe Diocese during which five Priests and a Catholic Nun were among those kidnapped.

In their collective statement shared with ACI Africa Sunday, September 18, members of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC) call on those behind the abduction of the members of the Clergy, the Religious Sister, and the Laity, “to release them without further delay”.

BAPEC members say they learnt “with great shock and utter horror the burning down of the St. Mary's Catholic Church, Nchang, Mamfe Diocese, and the kidnapping of five priests, one Religious Sister and two lay faithful by unknown Gunmen, and taken to an unknown destination in the surrounding Forests of Nchang village on the evening of 16th of September, 2022.”

“This act was completely unprecedented, and as of now, no concrete reason has been given for this heinous act against the house of God and the Messengers of God,” the Catholic Church leaders at the helm of Bamenda Archdiocese and the Dioceses of Kumbo, Kumba, Mamfe and Buea Dioceses say.

In a Facebook post by Radio Evangelium of Mamfe Diocese, nine people were abducted during the September 16 incident.


“It was a very heavy attack on the Church of Mamfe in particular and the Universal Church in general as the gang of over 60 fighters sent yet a faction to kidnap nine members of the said Christian community in Nchang. Among the nine are 5 priests, 1 female Religious, an assisting catechist, a female cook, and a young girl of about 15yrs of age living with the sisters,” Radio Evangelium has reported in the September 17 post.

The nine abductees, the Catholic Radio reposts, “have been taken to an unknown destination and are now spending their second night in surely very uncomfortable circumstances. The Diocesan bishop, Mgr. Fondong braving all odds, rushed to the scene this morning, took away the blessed sacrament.”

In their statement dated September 17, the Catholic Church leaders in Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province say they “strongly condemn all these attacks against the Church and her Ministers and we appeal to those who have taken the Priests, the Nun and the Christians in Nchang to release them without further delay.”

“We insist on this because this act has now crossed the red line and we must say that ‘Enough is enough,’” the Catholic Bishops of the five Episcopal Sees located in Cameroon's Anglophone regions say in their collective statement dated Saturday, September 17.

They calls call upon “those who burnt down the St. Mary's church, Nchang, and all those who either instructed them or support them from home and abroad, to repent of their evil ways because where they are now, they may find themselves fighting against God and not men (Acts 5:39). And no one ever fights against God and wins.”

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BAPEC members express their “solidarity and prayerful wishes” to the Local Ordinary of Mamfe Diocese, Bishop Aloysius Fondong Abangalo, the Clergy, women and men Religious, the Laity of the Cameroonian Episcopal See “and especially to the Christians of St. Mary's Parish Nehang, during this trying moment.”

In a video shared on social media, Bishop Abangalo is featured saying, “We have taken out the Blessed Sacrament and the crucifix to the Bishops’ House.”

Credit: Courtesy Photo

“What has happened is an abomination. In simple terms we have told God that we don’t want you in our land,” the Cameroonian Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in May this year says, and calls upon “all the people of God in the Mamfe Diocese to say a Rosary of reparation throughout the month of October for this act of abomination that has been committed in our land.”

“At the end of the month of October we are going to celebrate Mass to seek God’s blessings on our land,” Bishop Abangalo further says in the video, and challenges those behind the September 16 church arson and abductions “to know that God still loves them. No human sin is more powerful than God’s mercy.”


He adds in reference to the perpetrators of the attack on the Catholic Parish in his Episcopal See, “They should know that they are children of God and that the Lord is ready to forgive them.”

Credit: Courtesy Photo

“Never in the history of mankind have people fought against God. You cannot try the patience of God. They have tried the patience of men, now they want to try the patience of God,” the 49-year-old Cameroonian Bishop says, and adds, “We pray for the Priests, religious and other people who were taken away. We pray that they should be released.” 

Those abducted during the September 16 arson attack, Bishop Abangalo says in the video, “have not committed any crime. If there are issues affecting our nation we should sit together and discuss it. We should not be killing people, harassing people and destroying property.”

Credit: Courtesy Photo

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Cameroon’s English-speaking regions plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed movement of separatists claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.

In their September 17 collective statement, BAPEC members decry the negative effects of the protracted conflict in the Central African nation. 

They say that “since this crisis started in 2016 until today, the People have suffered terribly and men and women of God have been soft targets of kidnappers, torturers and unscrupulous gun men.”

“A wave of persecution against the hierarchy of the church is now the new game of the ‘Struggle’, and all kinds of threat messages are sent out against Missionaries who have surrendered their lives to work for the people,” the Catholic Church leaders add.

They note that “these attacks are not only against the Catholic Church but also against the Presbyterian and the Baptist Churches in Cameroon. And strange enough, some of those who attack the churches ferociously, are people who are either members of these churches or who have benefitted from the generosity of these Churches.”

“Looking at all that the Church has done and is still doing for the people of the Regions of the South West and North West Regions of Cameroon in its history, we, the Bishops and the Ministers of the Churches address our people with the strong words of Yahweh to Israel Our People, how have we offended you, answer us"(Micah 6:3-4),” BAPEC members say.

They continue, “It is important to remind these violent offenders of the Church and Her Ministers that what they have done in 2022 AD is equivalent to what King Nebuchadnezzar did in 587 BC when he burnt down the temple in Jerusalem and looted the temple and carried away the priests to Babylon, (2 Kings 25:8-19).”

“But they must also remember what happened to the great King Nebuchadnezzar after attacking the house of God: ‘He was driven from human society and fed on grass like oxen, and was drenched by the dew of heaven; his hair grew long as eagle's feathers, and his nails became like bird's claws,” BAPEC members say.

Bishop Aloysius Fondong Abangalo of Mamfe Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

They call on all Christians to continue “to pray for the Church in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and for all her Ministers.”

“We pray for protection and at the same time for forgiveness of the offenders like Christ on the Cross who prayed: Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing,” the Catholic Church leaders add in the September 17 statement shared with ACI Africa.

They further “call on people of goodwill to exercise vigilance over the temporal goods of the Church and her personnel and protect them from the powers of the Evil One.”

“While we pray for protection, we also pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, that peace may return to our Ecclesiastical Province and that a lasting solution may be reached to this problem,” BAPEC members implore.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.