By Emily Drooby
Pope Francis is mourning the deaths of a Catholic priest and five parishioners who were murdered after Sunday Mass in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The horrifying attack happened in the village of Dablo, which is in the northern part of the country.
The village’s dead were buried today, including Father Siméon Yampa, the 34-year-old pastor of the Church.
His Bishop, Theophile Nare, spoke fondly of Father Yampa, calling him, “a humble person, obedient and full of love.”
“He loved his parishioners,” Nare said.
Pope Francis also expressed his grief for the incident through the interim Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Alessandro Gisotti, who wrote on Twitter:
“The Holy Father has learned with sorrow about the news of the attack on the church in Dablo, Burkina Faso. He prays for the victims, for their families and for the entire Christian community in the country.”
Vatican News reported that just after Sunday Mass, 20 jihadists chased down and shot Father Yampa, who is believed to have been the main target of the shooters. They then killed five other worshipers and burnt down the church.
Burkina Faso has seen an increase in violence in the country, according to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which collects and analyzes conflict numbers. The amount of jihadists attacks in the country has skyrocketed in the past few years, from only 12 in 2016 to 158 in 2018.
Many of those attacks have been against Christian people.
On April 28, a Protestant pastor was killed and five members of his church were killed in Silgadji.
According to the Bishop of Dori, a diocese within Burkina Faso, on April 5, four worshipers were murdered when a Catholic Church was attacked in the northern part of the country.
Then on March 17, Father Joël Yougbaré, the parish priest of Djibo, a city in the nation’s north-western region, disappeared and has not been seen since.
Back on February 15, a Salesian Missionary in Burkina Faso by the name of Antonio César was murdered by a jihadist group. Only a few days before his death, Father César spoke of his pride for his vocation.
However, Christian persecution is not limited to Burkina Faso.
Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, Nigeria previously spoke with Currents News about the jihadist group Boko Haram, and the terror it has unleashed on his people.
Nigeria, an African nation less than 1,000 miles from Burkina Faso, has faced similar violence rooted in religious intolerance. “This particular sect has destroyed lives and property. We have had over 1,000 Catholics killed from our own Diocese,” the Bishop said.
Recent attacks on places of worship have even inspired Vice President Mike Pence to speak out.
“In the last few months we’ve seen unspeakable attacks on people of faith. No one should ever fear for their safety in a place of worship, and these attacks on people of faith must stop,” he said.