The Vatican has demanded a comprehensive report concerning the demise of the Bishop of Bafia, Jean-Marie Benoît Balla. This request follows a series of unanswered questions surrounding the mysterious death of the Cameroonian bishop.
Rome’s demand for a detailed explanation regarding the puzzling death of Bishop Balla was made known in a meeting among Bishops of Cameroon which held on June 13 in Yaoundé. In response to this ugly development, Pope Francis proactively made a swift transfer of Cameroon’s papal ambassador, Mgr. Piero Pioppo to Indonesia. This is probably in a bid to avoid losing another Catholic fellow as the recent happenings in the country have proven.
Before the unfaithful demise of the bishop, some government officials had warned late Bishop Balla to terminate an investigation he was carrying out regarding the death of a Catholic priest who had recently been murdered in his bedroom. Many believe the bishop was connecting this investigation to the government.
The cleric’s body was discovered and pulled out of the Sanaga River on the 2nd of June after he went missing on May 31. Unusual circumstances surrounded the bishop’s death which led many to believe it was a suicide. However, Archbishop Cornelius Esua of Bamenda quickly waved off this belief as he noted that “bishop suicides are rare.”
While some at first believed the bishop must have ended his own life, a post-mortem conducted on the body conversely established that though his body was found three days after he disappeared, the body actually spent less than 4 hours in water before it was found. Cameroonian bishops, therefore, confirmed Bishop Balla was assassinated on the day his body was discovered.
Recent upheavals in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions have revealed so much viciousness when it comes to settling political squabbles in Cameroon. The government has pointed accusing fingers towards these churches, claiming they encouraged the Anglophone protest which has resulted in the arrest and death of many protesters. Church authorities were charged on grounds that they failed to renounce the strike action by shutting down their educational establishments.
It should be noted that the church has on several occasions been dragged into the political affairs of the country and this has cost the life of Cameroon’s Bishop Balla.Speculations are on ground that the government is directly connected with these mysterious occurrences.
Bishop Balla is the fourth Roman Catholic bishop to have been assassinated in Africa, with three from Cameroon and one from Congo Brazzaville between 1997 and 2017. Whatever or whoever may have been responsible for Bishop Balla’s death, Rome impatiently awaits answers from Cameroon.