On 2 June a local fisherman found the body ofJean-Marie Benoit Bala, Bishop of Bafia, floating down the Sanaga River in the West African country of Cameroon.
He had disappeared on the night of 31st May. Further upriver his Landcruiser was found abandoned on a bridge and a note with the message “I am in the river” (written in French) on the passenger seat, leading to media speculation that the 58 year-old bishop had committed suicide. However after police investigations it was discovered that the bishop had been tortured and brutally killed before his body was put into the river.
There were unexplained killings of a bishop, priests and two religious sisters in Cameroon in the 1990’s. More recently Boko Haram have crossed the border from Nigeria, killing numbers of people. All this has caused speculation but no firm conclusions as yet.
Cameroon, a member of the Commonwealth, is 38% Catholic, 26% Protestant and 21% Muslim.
The bishops of Cameroon have written a letter asking that the media respect truth and the dignity of individuals. They also asked for prayers for Bp. Bala, for the conversion of the perpetrators and that the police find the truth quickly.