Asked why he spoke of Islamization when those involved in the abductions and the attacks in the region are part of ADF, a rebel group that does not claim to be an Islamist entity, the Bishop said, “All those who have been kidnapped by these terrorist groups and who have escaped alive from them report the same thing.”
“They (victims) were given the choice between death and conversion to Islam,” Bishop Paluku recounted in the May 3 ACN report, adding in reference to those survived after being abducted, “They are given Muslim names to cement their identity.”
“What kind of relationship should we have with this form of Islam, which is not only a religion, but also a political movement that is linked to terrorism?” the Bishop has posed.
The Catholic Church has remained at the service of the people the 69-year-old Bishop says in the May 20 ACN report shared with ACI Africa, and explains, “We are 1500 miles from the capital. As the government is doing nothing here, we must take care of ourselves. We do not receive any help. However, the Church has still managed to build schools in the region.”
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The Bishop of Butembo-Beni adds, “The people cry because they have reason to. But they also carry a seed of hope within them. They have a natural resilience that is strengthened by evangelization.”
The greatest challenge, Bishop Paluku says, is “strengthening the faith of Catholics. Islam is being forced on us. Mosques are being built everywhere, even though no one needs them. They do not look like the traditional ones we are familiar with.”
He notes that “Christianity was introduced in this region about 120 years ago” and “evangelization is bearing fruit. We have many vocations in our Diocese.”
“Our presence gives the people hope that they will be able to overcome their current adversities and that better days will come,” Bishop Paluku says.
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.