Five Catholic priests, one religious sister, and two lay people have been kidnapped by unknown gunmen after the attackers reportedly set a church building on fire in western Cameroon. The church burned to the ground.
The Catholic bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province released a statement strongly condemning the attack at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Nchang, Mamfe Diocese on Friday.
The bishops "strongly condemn all these attacks against the Church and her Ministers and we appeal to those who have taken priests, the Nun and Christians in NChang to release them without further delay," the statement said. "We insist on this because this act has now crossed the red line and we must say that 'Enough is enough.'"
The bishops also reminded the unknown assailants that those who choose to fight against God never win.
"We equally call on those who burnt down the St. Mary's church, Nchang, and all those who either instructed them or support them from home and abroad, to repent of their evil ways because where they are now, they may find themselves fighting against God and not men. (Acts 5:39). And no one who ever fights against God wins," the statement said.
The Central African country has been involved in a bloody civil war since 2016. Armed separatists have participated in an uprising against President Paul Biya's security forces.
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports both sides have been accused of atrocities, including the murder and torture of civilians. Thousands have been killed in the conflict which has also displaced around a half million people.
In their statement, the bishops said the Catholic Church has continually been targeted as well as Presbyterian and Baptist churches in Cameroon.
"And strange enough," the bishops added, "some of those who attack the churches ferociously, are people who are either members of these churches or who have benefited from the generosity of these churches."
About two-thirds of the country are Christians, while some 25% to 30% are Muslim, according to the CNA.
Cameroon ranks #44 on the Open Door's 2022 World Watch List of places it is dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ.