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South Africa: fourth Catholic missionary murdered

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The funeral of Fr. Louis Blondel, of the Missionaries of Africa  known as the White Fathers for their traditionally white cassocks, will be held on Saturday, December 12th. Fr. Blondel was killed overnight December 6-7 in Diepsloot - one of the townships of Pretoria, South Africa. The memorial Mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Diepsloot, will be presided over by Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo of Pretoria.

Press releases from the Superior General of Missionaries of Africa, Fr. Gerard Chabanon, and from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), reconstruct the circumstances of the killing of the Catholic missionary from France.

On the night of Sunday, December 6, three young men entered through a window into the missionaries' home in Diepsloot. Having awoken a Canadian religious brother of the community and another person who was sleeping in the house and stealing their mobile phones, they demanded that the main door of the house be opened. Thus, another young man entered, who asked whether there were other people in the house. They then headed towards the room of Fr. Louis Blondel, who opened the door and was immediately shot to death.

Father Louis Blondel was 70 years and was a native of northern France. He taught philosophy in Tanzania for 15 years. In 1987, he moved to South Africa. In June 2009, he finished his second term as Superior of the Province of Southern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa) of the White Fathers. He also taught philosophy at St. Peter's Seminary, Hammanskraal. After founding "Cordis", an Emmaus Center, and having worked in the development of Orange Farm, a huge township in Johannesburg, in 2008 Fr. Blondel had moved to Diepsloot, another township of about 300,000 people that is located between Johannesburg and Pretoria. In Diepsloot, Fr. Blondet had opened a new parish.

"The Missionaries of Africa and the Christian community that Louis has served, give thanks to God for his own concrete commitment to the Gospel, for its many initiatives, and his creative intelligence," the statement by Fr. Chabanon concluded.

Five people are suspected of involvement in the murder of Fr. Blondel and have meanwhile been arrested by South African police, a spokesman of the SACBC tells Fides. Fr. Blondel is the fourth Catholic priest to be killed in South Africa in 2009. The three other priests are Fr.Daniel Matsela Mahula, in the Diocese of Klerksdorp, killed February 27 while driving his car, by four highwaymen near Bloemhof, Fr. Lionel Sham, parish priest of Mohlakeng (Archdiocese of Johannesburg), killed March 7, 2009, and Fr. Ernst Plöchl, a 78 year old Austrian missionary of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, killed May 31 in the Cape Province of South Africa.

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