Bishops in Africa Express Solidarity with Equatorial Guinea Following Recent Tragic Blasts

By Magdalene Kahiu

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have expressed solidarity with the people of God in Equatorial Guinea following the March 7 series of blasts that resulted in the loss of at least 107 human lives and more than 600 injured people in the country’s Diocese of Bata.

In their Monday, March 15 statement sent to ACI Africa, the leadership of SECAM says that Catholic Bishops in Africa are “deeply saddened” by the explosions which are “a tragic and lamentable situation compounded by the current coronavirus pandemic.”

“Dear brothers and sisters in Equatorial Guinea, be assured that the Church-family-of-God in Africa is close to you and carries you in her daily prayers and addresses supplications to Jesus Christ to comfort and strengthen you,” Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar say in the statement signed by SECAM’s President, Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo.

Noting that the experience of such tragedy as the deadly explosion may lead those in “grief and anguish” to doubt God’s omnipotence and omnipresence, the Bishops say, in reference to the Book of Psalms, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and helps those whose spirit is crushed.”

“Look up to God with hope; He suffers with you and has not abandoned you. Courage!” members of SECAM say in their March 15 solidarity message shared with ACI Africa.

The President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo, attributed the March 7 blasts at the Nkoa Ntoma military camp located in the country’s largest city, Bata, to badly stored dynamite.

The leadership of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the authorities of the Central African nation to invite international experts to conduct investigations into the blasts.

A state funeral for the victims of the explosions was held on March 12.

In their March 15 statement, members of SECAM express their “heartfelt sympathy” to the families that lost their loved ones in the explosion. They also express their “spiritual closeness and solidarity” with the people of God who were wounded in the March 7 blasts.

Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar call on the “people of good conscience,” the leadership of Church and civil organizations on the continent and beyond to come to the aid of the people of God in Equatorial Guinea.

“May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, ensure the maternal protection for her children,” the Bishops implore in their one-page statement.

Leaders across the globe have also expressed their solidarity with citizens of the Central African nation following the March 7 tragedy.

In a March 8 tweet, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki, expressed his “deepest condolences to the families of the victims and their loved one, as well as to the people and government of Equatorial Guinea following the terrible explosions in Bata.”

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, offered her “deepest condolences” to the people of God in the Central African nation in her March 9 statement.

Georgieva assured citizens of Equatorial Guinea of her organization’s support.

IMF is “exploring all possible ways to support the people of Equatorial Guinea at this difficult time, building on the ongoing policy dialogue and working with the international community, and to help the country move toward more sustainable and inclusive growth,” she said.

Culled from ACIAfrica