|Antananarivo (Agenzia Fides) – Malagasy Capuchin Friar, aged 46, Fr. Lucien Njiva, was killed during the night of 22 April at the Friary in Ambendrana Antsohihy.
Fides was told by Rev. Eric Franck Randriamiandrinirinarivo, Director of Radio Don Bosco Madagascar, “around one in the morning at least five bandits broke into the friary, attacking and wounding 26 year old deacon Jeremy. On hearing the cries of the deacon, Fr. Lucien ran to the spot brandishing a shotgun, but the bandits shot him dead with a Kalashnikov rifle”.
“The deacon was taken to a hospital in the capital Antananarivo, and in the meantime the police announced the arrest of some suspects” says Fr Franck.
The bandits wanted to steal the friary bell. The Friars had thwarted an earlier burglary attempt during Holy Week, when the bandits broke into the friary during the night but the brothers managed to frighten them away. The bell had been hidden, but this did not deter the evildoers.
The Director of Radio Don Bosco Madagascar says “ for some time now we have seen an increase in thefts of church bells to extract the metals of which they are made and sell it on the black market. This activity is very profitable”.
The assault on the friary of Ambendrana Antsohihy is the latest in a series of robberies in Catholic convents and churches. Before the murder of Fr. Lucien, the most serious incident was an attack during the night of April 1 at the convent of the Sisters de Notre Dame de la Salette in Antsahatanteraka Antsirabe, when some of the sisters and postulants suffered sexual violence (see Fides 8/4/2017). According to the local press in five weeks there were as many as four reports of assaults and sacking of four different convents . (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 26/4/2017)