Letter to Secretary Kerry from Bishop Pates on Central African Republic, April 11, 2014
April 11, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
I have the pleasure to send you a copy of a letter in French and English that our Committee on International Justice and Peace received from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Central African Republic. (The English translation is theirs.)
The bishops highlight five urgent requests centering on the needs to improve security, to rebuild state authority, to build social cohesion by supporting the Religious Leaders’ Platform, and to provide immediate emergency aid supplemented by more medium term assistance.
The bishops are particularly concerned about what they see as a growing effort towards the partition of the Central African Republic by Seleka militia. They are moving to the north and northeast to establish and hold control over the area. In this regard, they remain critical of the MISCA and Sangaris troops for their inability to stop the violence, disarm the various militia groups, and establish CAR government control over the entire country. They make the argument that MISCA troops from neighboring countries are more interested in securing their own borders with CAR than stopping the violence that threatens these same border regions.
Our Committee is grateful for the recent meeting that the State Department, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary David Gilmore and a number of staff from various offices at State, held with the three members of the Religious Leaders’ Platform, and for the support that State Department gave to the CAR delegation. Related to this meeting, I am encouraged that the State Department is organizing a visit to Bangui of a delegation of American religious leaders, including His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick. I hope the visit will further the work of our brother religious leaders in CAR to calm tensions and end the violence that has had a serious impact on a quarter of the country.
Lastly, I want to express my thanks for the collaboration that State Department officials have extended to the United States Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Relief Services in support of the faith leaders and the people of CAR. Much remains to be done to end this crisis and respond to the urgent needs of a population that has suffered too long.
Most Reverend Richard Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace