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Overcome Bitterness “that wound the dignity of human life”: Archbishop in Chad

Archbishop Djitangar Goetbé Edmond of Chad’s Archdiocese of N’Djamena/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Archbishop of Chad’s Archdiocese of N’Djamena has underscored the need for the people of God in the North-Central African nation to foster peaceful coexistence, striving to overcome “contempt for others and violence” that contribute to instability and “wound the dignity of human life.”

“It is the right time to overcome the resentments accumulated by all internal conflicts that wound the dignity of human life, the living together of citizens and impede the stability of our country,” Archbishop Djitangar Goetbé Edmond said Sunday, April 25.

Chad has been experiencing violent conflicts that have resulted in the loss of lives, including President Idriss Déby Itno who succumbed to injuries from a battle with a militant group on April 20. 

Late President Déby was reportedly killed while visiting troops on the frontline. According to a BBC News report,  the Chadian President who was laid to rest on April 23 was seen by western powers as an ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel.

In his homily on Vocations Sunday at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral of N’Djamena Archdiocese, Archbishop Djitangar highlighted the importance of peace saying it will “will enable people and communities to regain confidence in themselves and in their capacity to be the active authors of their own development, a development that we hope will be integral (economic, social, cultural and religious), guaranteed by a fair justice accessible to all, without exclusion.”

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The much-needed lasting peace in Chad “can only be achieved through a common commitment of citizens on the path of true reconciliation, not imposed by a self-interested political authority, but by the real desire of citizens to make peace and live in peace,” the Archbishop said.

“How can we do this if we ourselves do not begin by converting our thoughts, our words and our behavior, which are sometimes full of contempt for others and violence?” he posed.

Making reference to the greeting Assalamu alaikum (peace be upon you), the 68-year-old Chadian Archbishop said, “It cannot be for us Christians a mere formula of politeness or social convenience. It must carry a real burden and express the peace that goes from our heart to the heart of the person to whom we address it.”

He added that the greeting “is an invitation to peace and to the sharing of a gift that comes from God and that we believers, whatever our religious denomination, must give or receive with gratitude to one another.”

“For us Christians, Christ himself is our peace … and we are an embassy of reconciliation for Christ,” the Archbishop said, making reference to the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.

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Christians are also “responsible for inviting all human groups to be reconciled with God and with each other,” Archbishop Djitangar further said, adding that rather than “a distrustful or fearful heart,” peace emerges from a heart freed from hatred or the desire for revenge...a heart already at peace.”

According to the Local Ordinary of N’Djamena who doubles as the President of the Episcopal Conference of Chad (CET), the prayer for peace in the country is being done in “spiritual communion with all the other Dioceses of Chad.”

“It is a call for a rebirth that our Church launches to all the Chadian people,” he said.

“Let us, therefore, pray on this Good Shepherd Sunday for the pastors of this Church, whether in service or information, that the Lord may develop in them a love for the flock that God has entrusted to them and the imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd, capable of giving his life for his flock,” Archbishop Djitangar said. 

He also called on Chadians to pray for politicians and those overseeing the transitional government. 

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“May the will to dialogue, wisdom, a sense of the common good and respect for human life animate them and prevail over particular and immediate interests, a sine qua non-condition for strengthening the foundations of a Chad deeply renewed in its structures,” Archbishop Djitangar said. 

As the late Chadian President was being laid to rest, Catholic Bishops in the country called for an inclusive dialogue saying “for reconciliation is today a necessity for lasting peace in our country.”

“It is necessary to create the conditions for its success,” they say in reference to the inclusive dialogue.