Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 15 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Isidore the Farmer
home iconChurch
line break icon

This is how a bishop saved 2,000 Muslims

Gelsomino Del Guercio - published on 08/10/17

In war-torn Central African Republic, a representative of Christ reaches out to panicked population.

In a city of the Central African Republic, torn apart by civil war, Bishop Aguirre transformed the cathedral into a refugee camp.

Two thousand desperate Muslims flee their homes in panic, under assault from anti-Balaka militias. They are in Bangassou, a city in the south of the Central African Republic, on the border with the Congo, where the echoes of the civil war are even more violent than in other areas of the country.

The militias—which define themselves as Christian, and which took shape in the Central African Republic after Michel Djotodia’s rise to power in 2013—search every house. Their goal is to capture and kill them. Half of the population has already taken refuge in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

But for these 2,000 people, there is no escape. They do not have the possibility of fleeing to the border. It is then that Bishop Juan José Aguirre Muños of Bangassou offers them the only way left to save themselves: He has them all take refuge in the city’s cathedral, protected by Moroccan soldiers of the MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic).

They wait there for the situation to become less dangerous—a goal which is anything but simple. We need look no further than what happened just last month. “It all began on Friday, July 21, when the anti-Balaka abducted a pregnant young Muslim,” said Bishop Aguirre to Fides shortly afterward. “In response to this abduction, 15 young extremist Muslim men kidnapped two humanitarian workers of Caritas, with their families: nearly 30 people.”

For these extremists, there is no difference between anti-Balaka and Catholic workers.

That’s when MINUSCA intervened, liberating those people. “The extremist group,” the bishop adds, “replied by attacking the Cathedral—which has suffered grave physical damage—trying to burn it down. Fortunately, they weren’t successful.”




Read more:
Attacks on places of worship are “shameful crimes,” says Pope Francis

Tags:
Refugees
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
2
ascension AND ASSUMPTION
Philip Kosloski
Ascension vs. assumption: What is the difference?
3
ZMARTWYCHWSTANIE
Philip Kosloski
What happened between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus?
4
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
5
PHILIPPINES CHURCH
J-P Mauro
We need better church music, say Catholics in the Philippines
6
Philip Kosloski
What was the message of Our Lady of Fatima?
7
BENOIT JOSEPH LABRE
Larry Peterson
Benedict XVI called him “one of the most unusual saintsR...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.