Ten years ago today, the papal nuncio to Burundi, Michael Courtney, was ambushed and shot 25 times in southern Burundi
The government blamed rebels, but further investigations suggest that he was targeted by high-ranking members of the government, because he had evidence of government misuse of international funds. See the Catholic News Service report here.
Irish-born Archbishop Courtney was trying to broker peace in the troubled nation, where tribal conflicts had resulted in massacres (as in neighboring Ruanda) and a civil war. He was seeking to help the people of Burundi find a sense of being brothers and sisters, instead of identifying themselves by ethnic background.
I don’t know much more about his life or his witness. But he was committed enough to risk his own life.
Trying to seek peace and justice is not sitting back, talking about reconciliation. It is a hard process, demanding sacrifice – of oneself.
That sacrifice begins when we start treating others, even our enemies and opponents, with respect and love – speaking the truth, but seeking to find what is common to all of us: our identity as children of one God.