“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and helps those whose spirit is crushed” (Psalm 34:18)We the members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) are deeply saddened by recent blasts in Bata city, Equatorial Guinea that resulted in the death of at least 20 people and wounded about 600. It is a tragic and lamentable situation, compounded by the current coronavirus pandemic.Moments like this raise doubts about God’s omnipotence and omnipresence, especially, for those in the grip of anguish and sorrow. But as we read from Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and helps those whose spirit is crushed.” It is further noted by St. Augustine that: “Being supremely good, God would not allow any evil in his works, unless in his omnipotence and goodness, he is able to bring forth good out of evil” (Enchiridion 11, 3; PL 40, 236; Cf. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Homily during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord St. Peter’s Basilica Friday 10th April 2020, https://www.vaticannews.va, NewsletterVN-EN).To the families of all those who have lost their loved ones, we the Catholic Bishops of Africa express our heartfelt sympathy. To all the wounded and those affected in any way by the explosions, we express our spiritual closeness and solidarity with you.We invite Church and civil organizations and all people of goodwill in Africa and beyond to come to the assistance of our brothers and sisters in Equatorial Guinea.Dear brothers and sisters in Equatorial Guinea, be assured that the Church-Family-of God in Africa is close to you and carries you in her daily prayers and addresses supplications to Jesus Christ to comfort and strengthen you. Look up to God with hope; he suffers with you and has not abandoned you. Courage!May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, ensure the maternal protection for her children!
+Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo; President of SECAM
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