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Burkina Faso’s Cardinal Renews Call for Prayers Following Deadly Saturday Attack

Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso's Ouagadougou Archdiocese. Credit: Fr. Paul Dah

The Cardinal in Burkina Faso has launched a renewed call for prayers in solidarity with victims of what has been described as one of the deadliest attacks in the West African country in recent years.

More than 160 people are said to have been killed when militants attacked residents of Solham village in the Northern part of the country.

In a report shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, June 8, the Archbishop of Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou Archdiocese, Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo sends condolences to victims of the Saturday, June 5 attack.

“Our country, Burkina Faso, has once again suffered a tragic attack in Solhan … in the Yagha region of the Sahel.  In the name of our Church Family of God, we offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and entrust to the Lord's mercy the victims of Solhan and all the victims of terrorist attacks, both civilian and military, in our country,” Cardinal Ouedraogo says in the report.

He adds, “To show our solidarity with all the victims, whatever their religious or ethnic affiliation, and with those populations traumatized by acts of violence, we launch a renewed call to prayer throughout the territory of the Archdiocese of Ouagadougou.”

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In the new call for prayers, the people of God will be expected to say “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” every day at the end of the Eucharistic Celebrations, the 75-year-old Cardinal says.

He explains, “Let us continue what has already been initiated; a ‘Pater’ and a ‘Ave Maria’, concluding with the prayer for Burkina Faso, or the prayer to Saint Joseph.”

The Local Ordinary of Ouagadougou Archdiocese who doubles as the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) further invites all faithful of the Archdiocese to fasting and abstinence on Friday, June 11, during the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

“Let us offer the Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice of this day, for reconciliation, justice and peace in Burkina Faso and in the world,” he says, and adds, “May the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, hear and grant us.”

In the early hours of Saturday, June 5, unknown gunmen launched an attack on Solhan village in Yagha Province, Sahel Region killing at least 160 residents and injuring many others, BBC News reported, adding, “Homes and the local market were burned during the overnight raid on Solhan.”

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According to AFP, the 160 bodies were recovered on Sunday, June 6 from what was described as three mass graves.

“No group has said it was behind the violence, but Islamist attacks are increasingly common in the country, especially in border regions,” BBC reported.

After praying the Angelus on Sunday, June 6, Pope Francis expressed solidarity with victims of the attack, saying, “I wish to assure you of my prayers for the victims of the massacre which took place on the night of Friday to Saturday in a small town in Burkina Faso.”

The message of Cardinal Ouedraogo comes two days after the President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kaboré declared 72 hours of prayers for the attack victims.

“I hereby declare a national mourning period of 72 hours, from midnight on 5 June to 11.59pm on Monday 7 June,” President Kaboré said, and assured the public that authorities in the country were working to ensure that perpetrators of the attack face justice.

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In an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, June 8, Bruno Kiemtore, a volunteer at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Ouagadougou Archdiocese termed the June 5 attack as inhumane and unjustifiable by any doctrine.

“No social or religious doctrine is going to ask us to take the life of our fellow man,” Mr. Kiemtore told ACI Africa.

He added, “As a Christian, I would say that we need to raise awareness around us, to instill in people through our actions the importance of human life, to let people know that the happiness of the other must be mine and my happiness can only be perfect when I respect the freedom of the other.”

The Catholic volunteer has called on parents to instill good values in their children to keep them from situations that threaten to sway them from a divine path.