Medical investigators have found “signs of torture” on the body of a Cameroonian bishop who died in mysterious circumstances.

Catholic leaders in the country have urged prayers for Bishop Jean-Marie Benoît Balla of Bafia, whose remains were pulled from a river three days after his alleged suicide.

“This is a catastrophe for Cameroon, and particularly for our Catholic Church,” a statement on the bishops’ conference website said.

“We place our confidence in those helping the country and Church by inquiring into the explicit causes of the death of this man of God, about whose level-headedness, thoughtfulness, wisdom, patience and gentleness no one had a bad word to say,” it added.

Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala, the bishops’ conference president, had gone with Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaoundé to identify the body of Bishop Balla after it was found by a fisherman in the Sanaga River, the bishops’ conference said.

The statement said that the 58-year-old bishop’s overnight disappearance from his residence had not yet been “clarified” and the Church still awaited an explanation for his “appalling, disturbing death”.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection