Pope Francis on May 6, 2018, called for prayers for the people of the Central African Republic, where attacks have killed and wounded numerous people in the past few days. His request came after praying the noonday Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square with a crowd estimated at 40,000.
“I invite to pray for the population of the Central African Republic, a country I had the joy of visiting and that I carry in my heart, and wherein past days grave violence took place with numerous dead and wounded, among them a priest,” the Holy Father said. “Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, may the Lord help all to say no to violence and revenge, to build peace together.”
As ZENIT reported May 4, 2018, a priest described seeing at least 19 Christians were killed when gunmen ‘rained down bullets’ on more than 2,000 people gathered for Mass in the Central African Republic.
Father Moses Otii, a parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in the country’s capital Bangui, told Catholic charity Aid to Church in Need about 120 parishioners were injured during the violence, which included grenade attacks, on Tuesday (1st May).
Father Otii said that the attackers “outnumbered the police and the police retreated, then the attackers started shooting at the church and throwing hand grenades at the people.”
He added: “With my own eyes I saw three hand grenades thrown in front of the Church, but thank God in an area without people, and a grenade thrown in among many people gathered in the open air within the church’s compound.
“The grenade was thrown from behind the parish walls into the crowd of people at Mass. It exploded.
“Normally our Masses are celebrated in the open air since our church cannot contain more than 2,000 people. And we had more than 2,000 people for the Mass.”
“So many people were injured. They started running in all directions. We had people almost everywhere – our rooms, refectory, parish halls, our kitchen, and even in the toilets.”
He added: “Others could not run. For example, a lady had both legs cut off by the grenade, she couldn’t move. It was a commotion with people running and people crying.”