Catholic priest who saved 1,500 Muslims nominated for peace prize

Father Bernard Kenvi (C) helps a Muslim child climb down from an open truck in the town of Bossemptele,

SHAFAQNA – Fr. Bernard Kinvi, a priest of the Order of St. Camillus, is shortlisted for the Aurora Prize.

The Aurora Prize aims to aims to honour those who stood up for Armenians during the 1915 genocide. In addition, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is given to “individuals who put themselves at risk to enable others to survive.” It grants the winner $100,000 and another $1 million for a charity of their choice.

Kinvi heroically provided shelter for almost 1,500 Muslims whoe were fleeing the anti-balaka militia at his mission hospital in Bossemptele, Central Aftican Republic for several months. The Catholic priest then helped them escape to Cameroon through the use of lorries.

Kinvi told the Guardian, “when I became a priest, I undertook to serve the sick even if it meant putting my life in danger,” he says. “I said that but I didn’t really know what it meant…But when the war came, I understood what it means to risk your life. Being a priest is about more than giving blessings; it’s about standing with those who have lost everything.”
There are currently four people who are short-listed for the prestigious peace prize, three of which are Catholic.The other nominees are Dr. Tom Catena, who was the sole surgeon helping around 750,000 people in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan; Marguerite Barankitse, who saved the lives of thousands of orphans and refugees caught in between the Burundi civil war; and Syeda Ghulam Fatima, who worked to end bonded labour in Pakistan.

Vartan Gregorian, an Aurora Prize committee member told Catholic Herald, “We created the Aurora Prize not just to honour, but to support the unsung heroes who reclaim humanity and stand up to such oppression and injustice.

“One hundred years ago, strangers stood up against persecution on behalf of our ancestors, and today we thank them by recognising those who act in the same spirit in the face of modern atrocities,” he continued.

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