CAR bishops denounce the exploitation of resources that undermine the country

A statement issued by the Catholic Bishops of the Central African Republic denounces a prolonged culture of corruption in the country which, together with abuse by foreign parties, creates the conditions for the continued exploitation of natural resources and international marginalization.

By Linda Bordoni

The Catholic Bishops of the Central African Republic call for more transparency in the agreements between their country and foreign partners and nations.

In a forceful statement issued following the first plenary assembly of bishops in 2022, the prelates denounce what they describe as “media outbursts and disinformation campaigns aimed at tarnishing the image and reputation” of the country in order to maintain “conflicting tensions in defiance of the sovereignty of the Central African state.

“This situation aims to marginalize and isolate our country diplomatically and internationally and causes great economic damage in the partnership with the international financial institutions that support the fragile economy of the Central African Republic,” the statement continued.

The Bishops go on to note that CAR’s remarkable natural resources are being exploited and abused by foreigners in complicity with corrupt compatriots.

The former French colony is one of the poorest nations in the world despite its large deposits of minerals and other resources such as diamonds, gold, uranium and graphite as well as vast tracts of arable land and wood.

“The degradation and destruction of our environment is appalling,” the Bishops say, “We hope and pray that transparency will be established around agreements between the Central African Republic and foreign partners and countries.”

Republican Dialogue

The bishops also give their opinion on the “Republican Dialogue” initiated by President Faustin Toudera, in the hope of bringing together around the same table the living forces of the nation.

They note with concern that several representatives of opposition parties have withdrawn from the process and wonder “about the real impact of such a political exercise in the search for a return to peace, harmony and national reconciliation”.

While expressing the fervent wish that this dialogue be inclusive, they warn that these consultations must not “become a license for impunity: there is no question of sacrificing the demands of justice on the altar of politics”, insist the bishops.

Crisis of moral values

Another central concern highlighted by the Central African bishops concerns the crisis of moral values.

“Corruption, illicit enrichment, mismanagement, incompetence and lack of professional ethics in certain State services, abuse of authority and injustice are all symptoms that reflect and expose the crisis of fundamental moral values”, they say, a crisis which goes hand in hand with the behavior of “dishonest adults [who], strong in their stature and social position, take advantage” of the naivety of children and “exploit them for sexual purposes, thus mortgaging their youth and their future”.

The statement was also an opportunity for the Central African Episcopal Conference to denounce the lack of civic and moral education courses that were provided in the country’s schools.

Synod and synodality

The powerful communiqué, dated January 14, does not fail to underline the fact that during the assembly, the participants had the opportunity to share moments of prayer and exchange.

One issue they focused on at length concerns the upcoming synod and synodality.

“Following Christ, the Church has made synodality her habitual way of living and exercising her mission in the world”, they write, noting that the ecumenical councils were an eloquent example of this ecclesial expression when contrary ideas threatened the faith and the unity of the Church.

Explaining the purpose of the ongoing synodal process, the bishops say the Pope “wants to listen to each baptized person as an active subject of evangelization.”

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