January 20, 2014

Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic criticized media portrayals of their country's conflict as religious in nature and listed preconditions for restoring peace and effective governance.

"Our present behaviour totally discredits the values of unity, dignity and work on which our Central African nation is founded," the 10-member bishops' conference said in a Jan. 8 pastoral message.

The bishops said that clashes between the rebel Seleka alliance, which seized power in March, and a northern-based movement, Anti-Balaka, loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize, had provoked "a cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals."

But they said it was wrong to portray the conflict as pitting Muslims against Christians.