Attacks on Church’s installations
Königstein/Montreal, March 4, 2016 – Almost two weeks after the events (February 18), a Bishop in Ethiopia has expressed his horror after the torching and looting of a Church compound by the very people being helped by priests and Sisters. What caused this rage at the Church facilities? Is the current shortage of food in some areas of Ethiopia at the cause? Right now, nobody knows for sure what motivated the assailants.
In a message sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Abraham Desta described how the parish of Gighessa – “one of the oldest and biggest parishes of the Vicariate of Meki” – was attacked by “the people for whom, and with whom, we work very closely.”
Bishop Desta, the Apostolic Vicar of Meki, described how villagers “including young and old, women and children… started throwing stones and destroying Church properties” including the presbytery, diocesan pastoral centre, a small Ursuline convent and a clinic specializing in care for the handicapped and disabled.
More than 55 people from around the world attending a conference on early childhood education at the pastoral centre were whisked to safety, but the Sisters stayed behind, refusing to leave patients at their clinic, until eventually they too fled the scene. Having set fire to the presbytery, the attackers made off with a year’s supply of food, as well as livestock including cows.
Bishop Desta added: “The Ursuline Sisters who run the clinic were left behind with the patients as they were not willing to leave the patients alone, but the people did not spare them.” Having demanded that all the clinic’s goods be handed over, the mob “began to destroy and to take away everything including the personal clothes in front of the Sisters.”
“Sad to say no one went to help the Sisters, but by God’s grace they managed to reach Shashamane, the nearest parish, along with the patients and spent that night in the parish.” The patients are currently being cared for in Shashamane. “They have lost everything, except the precious gift of life that is being given freely by God almighty. “And sad to say all this [was] done by the people of the locality whom [the Sisters] were serving, whom they know very well – if not all [then] at least a good number of them.”
Commenting after the incident, which took place on February 18, Bishop Desta said those attending the early childhood conference had escaped without harm. “The Lord was so good that he made all the arrangements to take the participants away from the place in short time safe and sound. “But… soon after the group left the miscreants came back again and put fire to the priest’s residence… [and] the Toyota pickup car and destroyed all the other buildings… “Moreover they carried away all that belong to the centre – the furniture, including more than 250 beds, mattresses, over 700 blankets, bed sheets, bed covers, four to five fridges and deep freezers, washing machines, televisions, generators, copier machines, computers even the doors and windows of the house.” They left “the place completely damaged and barren. Even in the kitchen they have left nothing.”
Many questions: and no answers…
The attackers seized more than 12,000kg (26,455 pounds) of food including wheat, rice, and pasta which was the center’s supply for the whole year. Cows and chickens, which were kept on a small holding attached to the parish, were also taken. The only building in the compound that was not attacked was the school. Bishop Desta added: “And today there is a question in our hearts and minds. Why Lord? Why like this? I hope that in due time the Lord will give us an answer.”
But the bishop went on to describe how God had shown that he was with them throughout the attacks. “The Blessed Sacrament was left behind as the Priests and the Sisters were not able to go to the church…” “But to our surprise two young Catholic girls from Gighessa pretended to be among [the attackers and] went on the next day and took the Blessed Sacrament and [brought] it to the Shashamane parish.” “Through all these incidents, the Lord is reminding us that he is with us until the end of time.”
Article : John Newton, ACN Intl
Adaptation : Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada, with the kind support of Christina Jocelyn