Catholic priest protects Muslims in Africa

Posted by Siobhan O'Neill Meluso
Monday 17, November 2014 | Category:   Ecumenism

Camillian priest Fr. Bernard Kinvi, OSCAM, is saving the lives of Muslims by sheltering them in the Catholic mission hospital he directs in Bossemptele, Central African Republic (CAR), according to The Guardian.

Since March 2013, this former French colony has been experiencing what is described by one United Nations official as "a massive ethnic-religious cleansing."

“It wasn’t a decision; it was just something that happened,” Kinvi says. “As a priest, I cannot support the killing of a man. We’re all human: religion doesn’t come into it...I don’t care who you are or what you do with your life or what your religion is, you are a human being and I will treat you.”

Kinvi was called to serve the church as a 16-year-old in his native Togo. After nursing his father through a long illness, he decided to join the Camillians, who minister to the sick. “When I became a priest, I undertook to serve the sick, even if it meant putting my life in danger,” he says. “I said that, but I didn’t really know what it meant. But when the war came, I understood what it means to risk your life. Being a priest is about more than giving blessings; it’s about standing with those who have lost everything.”

Kinvi’s efforts to protect the Muslims of Bossemptele have been recognised by the international NGO Human Rights Watch, which recently bestowed on him its Alison Des Forges award, which honors “people of valour who have put their lives on the line to create a world free from abuse, discrimination and oppression."

“I thirst for peace in CAR,” Kinvi says. “I want to see people able to move around safely like in any other country. I want to see my Muslim brothers, who have lost everything, return to their homes. It’s their country and they need to be back home.”

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