Catholic Bishops in Cameroon have said they have no doubt that Bishop Bala was killed.
In an official statement published on June 13, the Bishops exhorted the government to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators of the murder to justice
The statement included a “sad list of bishops, members of the clergy and consecrated persons assassinated in circumstances still not clear today.” Among them are Monsignor Yves Plumey, Emeritus archbishop of Garoua (assassinated in Ngaoundéré in 1991), Father Joseph Mbassi (Yaoundé, 1988), Father Antony Fontegh (Kumbo, 1990), Sisters in Djoum (1992) and Father Engelbert Mveng (Yaoundé in 1995).
“We feel that the clergy in Cameroon are particularly persecuted by obscure and diabolical forces,” the bishops wrote, and urged the authorities to find “the exact causes and the perpetrators of this heinous and unacceptable crime.”
The statement, signed by Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala who is president of the bishop’s conference of Cameroon, called on the government to “shed light on the circumstances and motives of the assassination of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala.”
The bishops insisted that “the culprits be identified and delivered to justice to be judged according to the law,” and urged the state “to assume the noble task of protecting human life.”
The letter also addressed the media and those who use social media, saying that they should use “truth, modesty and discernment” when handling the information and not give way to “defamation, lies, calumnies.”
The statement invited the media to have “respect for the dignity of the human person.”
Finally, to the perpetrators of the alleged crime, the bishops wrote that they “pray for them and ask them to embark on a process of urgent and radical conversion.”
The Catholic Church’s 24 dioceses account for 38 percent of Cameroon’s 20.4 million inhabitants, with Protestants make up 26 percent and Muslims 21 percent, according to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report.
In 2014, the government of President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, signed a framework agreement with the Vatican on the church’s legal status.