VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The deadly bombing of a new church in northern Tanzania left at least two people dead and a dozen injured while the Vatican nuncio escaped unharmed after the attack.
Archbishop Francisco Padilla, apostolic nuncio to Tanzania, was among those attending the inauguration of a new church in the city of Arusha May 5.
Eyewitnesses reported a bomb was thrown from a motorcycle into the church.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete called it “a terrorist act.” As of May 6, police had arrested eight people — four Saudis and four Tanzanians — in relation to the attack.
Archbishop Padilla told Vatican Radio May 6 that the pre-inauguration ceremony for the new church began with a blessing outside.
“Before going inside, I heard an explosion then I saw bodies of people injured on the ground,” he said.
“I was in shock and the police immediately took me someplace safe,” he said.
He said his prayers and thoughts were with all those hurt by the blast. “I feel very badly for them, innocent victims attending a celebration.”
The archbishop said an attack on a church was completely unexpected.
“Similar things have happened in Kenya, but not in Tanzania. It’s the first time a bomb exploded during a liturgical celebration.”
About 30 percent of mainland Tanzanians are Christian, 35 percent are Muslim and 35 percent profess traditional African beliefs.
On Tanzania’s predominantly Muslim island of Zanzibar, where some elements are fighting for secession, a priest and a Protestant pastor were killed in separate incidents in February and another priest was injured in a Christmas Day attack; a Muslim cleric also was attacked with acid last November. More than five churches on the island were set alight in arson attacks last year.
In February, Bishop Augustine Shao said clergy were living in fear.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: