ETHIOPIA: Bishop Expresses Shock at Violent Attack on Gighessa Parish

MEKI MARCH 4, 2016 (CISA) – Bishop Abraham Desta of the Apostolic Vicariate of Meki has expressed shock after locals burned and looted Gighessa parish.

“One of the oldest and biggest parishes of the Vicariate of Meki was attacked by the people for whom, and with whom, we work very closely,” the bishop said in a message sent to catholic charity aid Church in Need.

“Today there is a question in our hearts and minds. Why Lord? Why like this? I hope that in due time the Lord will give us an answer,” Bishop Desta pondered.

The Bishop recounted how villagers “comprising young and old, women and children started throwing stones and destroying Church properties, including the rectory, diocesan pastoral centre, a small Ursuline convent and a clinic specializing in care for the handicapped.”

More than 55 people from around the world attending a conference on nursery education at the pastoral centre were whisked to safety. The sisters stayed behind; refusing to leave their patients at the clinic, until eventually they too fled the scene. Having set fire to the rectory, the attackers made off with a year’s supply of food, as well as livestock including cows.

“The Ursuline Sisters who run the clinic were left behind with the patients as they were not willing to leave the patients alone, but the people did not spare them. Having demanded that all the clinic’s goods be handed over, the mob began to destroy and to take away everything including the personal clothes in front of the sisters,” Bishop Desta added.

The bishop expressed his shock that “all this was done by the local people whom the sisters were serving, whom they know very well, if not all then at least a good number of them.”

The bishop also said that the mob carried away all that belonged to the centre, including more than 250 beds, mattresses some 700 blankets, bed sheets, bed covers, as well as washing machines, televisions, generators, copier machines, and computers even the doors and windows of the building, which was left completely damaged and barren.”

The attackers also seized more 26,455 pounds of food; the centre’s supply for the whole year. Cows and chickens, which were kept on a small holding attached to the parish, were also taken.

The only building in the compound that was not attacked was the school.

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