YAOUNDE JUNE 6, 2017(CISA)-The body of Bishop Jean-Maries Balla of the Catholic Diocese of Bafia has been found in a river 78 kilometres from the country’s capital Yaoundé.
His car was found on May 31 on a bridge over the Sanaga River with a note, “Do not look for me, I am in the water,” reported CNA.
The bishop had been missing since May 30 after he left his office in Bafia at about 11.30 pm. It was unclear where he was headed.
A frantic search for him involving the navy, police and locals began May 31 and his decomposing corpse was recovered on June 2 about 17 kilometres from Sanaga Bridge and was taken to Yaounde General Hospital.
Police suspected suicide but further investigation has raised the possibility that someone else wrote the note and the bishop may have been murdered.
The Episcopal Conference of Cameroon had issued a communiqué asking for prayers to the missing bishop.
Archbishop Cornelious Fontem Esua of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bamenda cautioned against speculating on the cause of his death saying the issue should be left to authorities for investigation.
“We are expecting serious inquiries from the government. We need to go deeper to find out what happened to him, how he was able to find himself there,” he said.
He rubbished the possibility of suicide saying Bishop Balla did not seem to be troubled in the last days of his duty.
“As a bishop you are here to bring comfort to those who suffer, who doubt. We cannot be the first to kill ourselves. Bishop Balla did not seem to us as much troubled as that. And then this is a rare case in the history of the church, bishops do not commit suicide,” he added.
Bishop Balla was born on May 10, 1959 and ordained a priest for the Diocese of Yaoundé on June 20, 1987.
He was appointed Bishop of Bafia on May 3, 2003 and was consecrated on July 12 of the same year.