Vatican City, Oct 28, 2020 / 07:00 am
Pope Francis appealed for an end to violence in Cameroon Wednesday after seven students were killed in an attack on a school in the city of Kumba.
“I participate in the suffering of the families of the young students barbarically killed last Saturday in Kumba, in Cameroon. I feel great bewilderment at such a cruel and senseless act, which tore the young innocents from life while they were attending lessons at school,” Pope Francis said at the end of his general audience Oct. 28.
“May God enlighten hearts, so that similar gestures may never be repeated again and so that the tormented regions of the northwest and southwest of the country may finally find peace. I hope that the weapons will remain silent and that the safety of all and the right of every young person to education and the future can be guaranteed.”
Gunmen attacked Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, a school in Cameroon’s Southwest region, on Oct. 24 and opened fire on students in a classroom. A local education official told Reuters that all seven victims of the attack were between 12 and 14 years old.
Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba will offer a Mass for the repose of the souls of the murdered students and for the consolation of their bereaved families at the diocese’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Oct. 30.
“We shall also pray for the forgiveness and conversion of the Herod(s), the perpetrators of this heinous and barbarous act, while asking our loving Father in heaven to intervene for a lasting solution to be found so that true justice and peace may reign,” Bishop Nfon said in a statement shared with ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.
“Let us pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit He may turn the wicked and stone hearts of the Herod(s) (the murderers of our children) into hearts of love and flesh.”
The school attack took place amid conflict between separatists and government forces in the English-speaking territories in the country’s Northwest Region and Southwest Region. Tensions escalated after Francophone teachers and judges were sent to work in the historically marginalized Anglophone regions in 2016, and the dispute has come to be known as the Anglophone Crisis.