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Friday, October 21, 2016
Burundi: bishops call for end to civil war
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¬†The bishops of Burundi have sent out an urgent appeal to the warring parties to end their eight-year civil war. "Judge for yourselves into what an abyss of suffering the war has plunged your families and countrymen," the bishops write. Bishop Joseph Nduhirubusa of the diocese of Ruyigi showed the letter to Aid to the Church in Need this week. The letter says: "Famine is spreading everywhere, epidemics and deficiency diseases are multiplying. The conditions the refugees are forced to live in are inhuman. Please put an end to this crisis. Stop this war and help us build a society in which human rights, social justice and the participation of all in the search for a better future for our children can be respected." The civil war between the Hutu, who represent 85% of the population, and the Tutsi minority, who rule over this small East African nation, has so far cost 200,000 lives and driven 370,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries. Many priests, religious sisters and other pastoral workers have been murdered. Bishop Nduhirubusa stressed that they were not killed because they belonged to the church but because they were seen as 'intellectuals' who were unwelcome to the country's present dictatorial rulers. He said many Burundians placed their hopes in the Church, and therefore the bishops attached great importance to the training of their priests, who must educate young people towards tolerance and reconciliation and strengthen them in their faith. Burundi has one of the highest percentages of Catholics in Africa. Over 60 per cent of the six-and-a-half million inhabitants profess the Catholic faith. Last year Aid to the Church in Need sent £150,000 in aid to projects in Burundi. This year the charity is helping to fund the enlargement of the major seminary in the diocese of Gitega and the construction of a parish centre in the capital Bujumbura. This centre, called 'Esprit de Sagesse' - a multi-purpose hall in the university parish - will be used both as a Mass centre and a discussion forum for citizens who wish to make a contribution towards reconciliation between the two opposing ethnic groups.
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