Cameroon: Catholic Church Hit, Again, By Ongoing Political Turmoil

The Catholic Church in Cameroon has again been hit by the ongoing crisis in the country’s English-Speaking Regions. This time it is the death of one of its Priests, who is reported to have died from gunshot wounds.

From the start of the current crisis, the Catholic church has not been far from centre of the brewing storm. As a major education provider, the Catholic Church faced serious challenges when civil disobedience at the start of the struggle used school boycotts as a way of pressuring the Regime in Yaounde. Things first got bloody when Bishop Balla was murdered.

Following Dictator Paul Biya’s Visit to the Vatican, the Pope came under fire first, for accepting to meet with him, and secondly, for his remarks, caught on video, in which he tells Biya to go and “continue in the path of peace“. Whatever the Pope meant by the ‘path of peace’, Biya might have understood it in a completely different light, as no sooner had he returned to Cameroon, did the strongman resort to a crackdown, not known before in the country. A violent response from separatist fighters in Cameroon has led to the escalation of the conflict, with many commentators blaming both sides of gross human rights violations.

As the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, were trying to counter rumours by a blogger that they were helping the regime, the Diocese of Buea has been hit by the news of the untimely death of Fr. Sob Alexander, who was killed today in Muyuka in the South West Region. It is not clear as yet, who could have committed the act, but it could be anyone from the military, separatist fighters or armed robbers, who now operate with impunity as the security apparatus continues to disintegrate.

REV Fr Sob

Fr. Sob Alexander is just one of the thousands who have been killed in the crisis, that seems to be intensifying, with no end in sight, and no signs of an amicable resolution.

Maybe, with the storms hitting the Catholic Church, it might be time the institution stands up to its creed of being the voice of the voiceless and challenge the barbaric regime of Biya and its intransigence in resolving the current crisis. As Biya is nominally a Catholic Christian, the leaders of the Church can speak to him as one of their flock, and this would not count as meddling into politics… Though this is not to say, that the Church can be immune from political interventions, given that it is on politics that the foundations of Christianity were laid.

Pope Francis Tells Paul Biya that Suppression of Freedom & Abuse of Human Rights is a ‘Path to Peace’

What would Jesus Do? This is the question that many have asked and keep asking in many different situations.

Yes What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, the Dictator who has clung to power in Cameroon for 35 years?

What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, at a time when millions of English-Speaking Cameroonians have been without the internet for 65 days and counting?

What would Jesus do if he were to have a one-to-one discussion with Paul Biya, after receiving hundreds of tweets from English-Speaking Cameroonians asking for his intervention?

What would Jesus do if presented with the case of millions of English-Speaking Cameroons who have been suppressed by successive Cameroonian governments?

If there is one person in the best position to answer these questions, it would be Pope Francis, the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope received Paul Biya of Cameroon and his Wife Chantal Biya at the Vatican, after an official state visit to Italy.

English-Speaking Cameroonians and well-wishers across the world held their breath as they expected the Pope to use it as an opportunity to preach a life-changing sermon to Biya. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. Despite receiving hundreds of tweets with gruesome images and videos of the atrocities being committed in Cameroon by Biya’s government, the Pope chose to treat Biya as if he were a Saint, much to the chagrin and disappointment of millions of Catholic faithful who look up to the Pontiff to be the voice of the voiceless.

In a video released by The Rome Reports TV News Agency,  the Pope can be heard telling Biya after receiving a sculpture of an Elderly Cameroonian that “The Memory of elders is the Wisdom of a Country”.  As one tries to grapple with understanding what memory, or which elders or which wisdom, the statement is refering to, the pope goes on to present Biya with a sculpture that sybolises peace and then drops the bombshell “I Wish for Cameroon to Continue Walking on the Path of Peace”

Really? Cameroon where freedoms and personal liberty is suppressed, Cameroon where a 17-year-old University student is raped by the police and nothing is done about it; Cameroon where leaders of the Civil Society have been in prison for over 2 months, facing the death penalty, for peacefully demanding an end to the suppression of English-Speaking Cameroonians; Cameroon where hundreds have been arrested from their homes in the North West and South West Regions (which practices the Common Law system) and taken hundreds of miles to prison in Yaounde (a Civil Law jurisdiction); Cameroon, the country that has been world champion of corruption on two occassions; Cameroon in which any form of dissension against the corrupt and incompetent dictator is punished with a very lengthy prison sentence?

Is the Pope referring to another Cameroon or the same Cameroon where there is a genocide brewing and in which English-Speaking regions are under threat of extermination?

Anyone familiar with the Bible would not be in doubt about what Jesus would do if he met Biya. Jesus would have told him exactly what he told the Pharisees of his day. In Matt 12 33-36 Jesus had this message for the Pharisees

Make a tree sound and its fruit will be sound; make a tree rotten and its fruit will be rotten. For the tree can be told by its fruit   

 You brood of vipers, how can your speech be good when you are evil? For words flow out of what fills the heart.

Good people draw good things from their store of goodness; bad people draw bad things from their store of badness.

So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word people utter they will answer on Judgement Day

This is the type of message anyone would have expected the Pope to tell Mr. Biya. If I understand verse 35 above correctly, there is no way someone like Biya can bring about peace in Cameroon when he is not at peace with himself. A man whose hands are filled with the blood of innocent Cameroonians cannot be the one the Pope is wishing could be the architect of peace. A bad person as Biya is can only bring forth bad things from his store of badness.

The Pope, therefore, encouraged Biya to go on doing the horrible things he has been doing in Cameroon for the last 35 years, by insinuating that Biya was leading Cameroon on a path of peace.

I am sure even Jesus Christ would be disappointed that the Pope did not use this unique opportunity to preach the gospel to one man who needed to hear it the most. One thing though is clear, Cameroon is nowhere near the path of peace and unless Biya is told the truth by those whose responsibility it is to uphold the truth, then the journey to peace will be a very long on for Cameroon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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