South Africa: fourth missionary priest murdered

Five teenagers have been arrested today in connection with the murder of a parish priest, in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, police said.

White Father, Fr Louis Blondel, 70, was shot in his presbytery on Sunday night.  In a statement, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa, Fr Gerard Chabanon said three young men entered through a window into the missionaries' home. After waking up a Canadian religious brother and another person who was sleeping in the house and stealing their mobile phones, they demanded that the main door of the house be opened. Then another young man entered, and asked whether there were other people in the house. They headed towards the room of Fr Louis, who opened the door and was immediately shot dead.

Fr Louis Blondel was a native of northern France. He taught philosophy in Tanzania for 15 years. In 1987, he moved to South Africa. In June 2009, he finished his second term as Superior of the Province of Southern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa) of the White Fathers. He also taught philosophy at St. Peter's Seminary, Hammanskraal. After founding 'Cordis', an Emmaus Centre, and having worked in the development of Orange Farm, a huge township in Johannesburg, in 2008 Fr. Blondel had moved to Diepsloot, another township of about 300,000 people that is located between Johannesburg and Pretoria. In Diepsloot, Fr. Blondet had opened a new parish.

"The Missionaries of Africa and the Christian community that Louis has served, give thanks to God for his own concrete commitment to the Gospel, for its many initiatives, and his creative intelligence,"  Fr Chabanon said.

Fr  Blondel is the fourth Catholic priest to be killed in South Africa in 2009. The three other priests are:  Fr Daniel Matsela Mahula, in the Diocese of Klerksdorp, killed on 27 February while driving his car, by four highwaymen near Bloemhof; Fr Lionel Sham, parish priest of Mohlakeng (Archdiocese of Johannesburg), killed  on 7 March, and Fr Ernst Plöchl, a 78 year old Austrian missionary of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, killed on 31 May in the Cape Province of South Africa.

The funeral of Fr Louis Blondel, will be held this Saturday, 12 December. His memorial Mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Diepsloot, will be presided over by Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo of Pretoria.

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