, 03 December, 2019 / 2:15 AM
Following the murder of two Salesian Missionary priests working in Burkina Faso earlier this year, members of the Catholic Press Union in the west African nation of Togo (UCAP-Togo) have, on the occasion of their annual recollection day Sunday, December 1, offered special prayers for Fr. César Antonio Ferdnandez and Fr. Fernando Hernàndez as well as other victims of terrorism across the globe.
“On this first Sunday of Advent, on the occasion of its day of recollection called "At the Banquet of the Gospel", UCAP-Togo salutes the memory of all the victims of terrorism throughout the world and prays for their salvation,” reads in part a statement at the end of the recollection of the Togolese Catholic journalists Sunday, December 1.
“Catholic journalists pray for the victims of all forms of violence throughout the world and urge all those involved in these attacks to renounce evil for the sake of good, for world peace and the well-being of all,” the journalists added in their French statement availed to ACI Africa.
Speaking to ACI Africa on the objective of the recollection, UCAP’s president, Charles Ayetan said, “It is a day of spiritual renewal where journalists from the Catholic Press Union (UCAP-Togo) gather to pray, meditate and measure their professional commitment in the light of the Word of God.”
“This year, this recollection, which took place at the Don Bosco Centre in Akosséwa (Lomé), made it possible for us to pray for the victims of terrorism, in particular for Fr. César Antonio Ferdnandez and Fr. Fernando Hernàndez,” Ayetan added.
Fr César Antonio Fernández, a Spanish Salesian of Don Bosco priest, was shot dead February 15, 2019 by a group of armed men in an attack that targeted the Nohao customs post 10 km from the city of Bittou, Burkina Faso. Five people were killed in the attack, including four Burkinabe customs officers.
Fr. Fernández was parish priest of Gbeyendzi from 1985 to 1988, then director of the Maria Auxiliadora Training Centre (CAMA), Novice Master in Gbodjomé and director of the Don Bosco House in Togo.
Three months later, Fr Fernando Hernández, also a Spanish Salesian of Don Bosco priest, was stabbed to death May 17, 2019 in Bobo Dioulasso, a town in the southwest of the country, about 300 kilometers from the Burkinabe capital. Five days earlier, six other people, including a priest, had been killed on May 12 in a Catholic church in northern Burkina Faso, followed by another attack on May 13 during a Marian procession in Singa, a village located in the town of Kayon (northern Burkina Faso), resulting in the death of four Christians.
The Sunday spiritual exercise, which brought together 15 Catholic journalists in Togo, was also an opportunity to revisit the role of the media in the face of terrorism.
According UCAP’s president, “Catholic journalists in the fight against terrorism must work with professionalism, offering the public reliable and truthful information, information that takes into account the concerns of the populations.”
“They should also write stories of hope from everyday life, with its pains and joys,” Fr. Ayetan said in reference to Catholic journalists who, he added, should “avoid propaganda” that can provoke renewed “violent extremism.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa