Cameroon Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Balla was found dead on June 1st. Bishop Balla was reported missing on May 30th after a note was discovered in his truck near the Sanaga river reading, “I am in the water.”
News of the note left many believing the Bishop committed suicide, but others did not look away from murder as the possible cause. Terrorist organization, Boko Haram has previously kidnapped and killed priests and nuns in the region.
“The faithful reject this idea [of suicide] and speak instead of abduction with regard to the moral rectitude that has always characterized their pastor,” stated Armand Ougock, director of Koaci.com site in Cameroon.
The Cameroonian Bishops’ Conference asked for prayers in locating the Bishop, according to the African edition of La Croix, noting his vehicle showed no signs of blood or violence.
However, according to the Catholic Herald, three fishermen pulled out the Bishop’s body from the bridge of the Sanaga River.
“I am desperate for prayers because something so very serious is happening right now in Cameroon,” expressed Obianuju Ekeocha, founder of Culture of Life Africa.
Bishop Balla, born on May 10, 1959, died at 58-years-old. He was ordained into the priesthood in June 1987.
According to the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), there is an increased fear in a rising sense of despair amongst ageing priests.
“At the moment, we’re examining all the issues that were raised at the three local meetings, and the issue of depression amongst members of the clergy was certainly one of the main areas of concern,” explained a spokesman for the ACP, Fr. Roy Donovan. “We know that some priests with mental issues have found support by attending GROW groups, but I think there are a lot of priests out there who either won’t or don’t know where to get help.”
By Abigail James