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The invitation to forgive even those who kill

· Funeral celebrated of priest murdered in Tanzania ·

On Wednesday morning, 20 February, in the Cathedral of St Joseph on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, the funeral of Fr Evarist Mushi was celebrated. The Catholic priest was killed last Sunday as he was parking his car in front of the church where he was to celebrate mass. The priest was about to get out of his car when two people on a motorcycle shot him three times. The local police have three people in custody.

The funeral rite, broadcast live by Radio Maria Tanzania, was presided by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam. In his homily Bishop Tarcisius Ngalalekumtwa of Iringa,  President of the Bishops' Conference of Tanzania, reminded the faithful that Christians “are invited to forgive even the most serious of offences like murder”.

Fr  Evarist's brutal execution took place in a country that until today has been relatively calm but in recent weeks tension has been rekindled on the island of Zanzibar  where more than 90 per cent of the population is Muslim. The priest worked for a long time with a program of the local Church and Muslim community which fights AIDS. Therefore it is a possibility that his interreligious work lead to his death.

In the meantime threats against Christians continue for those on the island. Just last Tuesday, some people set fire to an evangelical church under-construction and on Christmas Fr Ambrose Mkenda was seriously wounded. Referring to the episode, Cardinal Pengo criticized the inaction of the police. According to France Press, the Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam  said that around the same time Fr Ambrose was injured, leaflets were handed out calling for attacks on churches. “The police”, underlined the Cardinal, “should have adequately investigated in order to prevent these violent acts”.




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