Cameroonian Diocese Directs Establishment of Caritas Offices to Address Needs of the Poor

Bishop Philippe Alain Mbarga of Cameroon's Ebolowa Diocese. Credit: Ebolowa Diocese

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ebolowa in Cameroon has directed institutions under his pastoral care, including Parishes and institutions of learning, to establish Caritas offices to take care of the needs of the growing population of the impoverished.

In a pastoral letter shared with ACI Africa on Wednesday, October 12, Bishop Philippe Alain Mbarga notes that Cameroon is experiencing a growing number of the poor, especially as war rages on in the country’s Northwest and Southwest English-speaking regions.

“There are many families (fathers, mothers and children) who, because of the insecurity in the Far North and the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West of our country, find themselves without a home; and some of their members are sometimes forced to engage in indecent practices in order to make ends meet,” Bishop Mbarga says.

He adds, “This deplorable situation challenges our ecclesial conscience… It urges us to move from indifference to compassion, and then from compassion to concrete action.”

In a directive that aims to bring Caritas services closer to the people, the Cameroonian Bishop says, “I dispose of the following…that the Caritas Associations erected in each Parish and Institution of the Diocese take great care, under the coordination of the Vicar General and the Diocesan Caritas Chaplain, to manifest the benevolent closeness of God and the Church to the poor.”


In Africa, Caritas is the humanitarian and development arm of the Catholic Church dedicated to the service of the poor and to the promotion of charity and justice on the continent. 

The work of Caritas is inspired by Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching “and by the experiences and hopes of people who are disadvantaged and are living in poverty,” according to information provided on the Caritas Africa website.

In his pastoral letter dated Wednesday, October 12, Bishop Mbarga highlights the suffering in Cameroon, saying, “In our own context, it is not uncommon to find brothers and sisters in humanity, children and elderly people, living in poverty.”

“Our cities and towns are full of people who cannot eat properly, or dress properly, or even go to school without any problems. Even more serious is the fact that many of these people, due to lack of financial means, cannot have access to proper medical care,” he says.

The Cameroonian Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in December 2016 as Bishop of Ebolowa encourages those in charge of the various Catholic institutions in his Diocese to awaken the spirit of sharing and communion among the people so that the poor do not feel left out.

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“May the parish priests and pastoral agents regularly awaken in each member of the faithful a sense of communion and fraternal solidarity on the one hand, and on the other, the concern and care to be given to the poor, the person in whom Jesus Christ identifies himself,” he says.

Bishop Mbarga further directs that an event, “miraculous fishing”, be organized on each World Day of the Poor, during which new members will be integrated into the Parish group of Caritas.

He further calls on the heads of learning institutions, including kindergarten, primary, secondary, and higher institutes of Catholic education to inculcate in their students, from an early age, the virtues of welcome, attention to others, solidarity and charity.

“They (learners) should keep in mind that the specificity of our educational offer is the formation of man, but also and above all the formation of the whole man and of all men,” the Catholic Church leader says.

He calls for active participation in the humanitarian offices to be established, saying, “May the faithful parishioners allow themselves to be moved by the calls of the Holy Spirit, the burning fire of charity, and may they not hesitate to take an active part in the Caritas Associations of their respective parishes.”


“May people of goodwill not allow themselves to be closed in by barriers linked to certain socio-religious considerations, but, following the example of the ‘Good Samaritan’, may they have the courage to continue to follow the voice of God who speaks to them through their consciences and act effectively and appropriately in favor of the poor,” Bishop Mbarga says in his October 12 pastoral letter.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.