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At Ordination, Cameroonian Prelate Emphasizes Importance of Obedience

Eight Diocesan Priests of Cameroon's Diocese of Buea, at their ordination in Molyko, July 16, 2020.

The Apostolic Administrator of Cameroon’s Diocese of Buea has, on the occasion of the ordination of eight Deacons to the Priesthood, underscored the value of the solemn promise of obedience, which diocesan priests make when they receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

“The fundamental reason for the Priests’ obedience is the fact that he is a personal instrument of Christ and therefore should conform himself totally to Christ,” Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi said Thursday, July 16 during the ordination event at the Divine Mercy Co-cathedral Parish, Molyko, in the south-western region of Cameroon.

Bishop Bibi who was recently appointed as Buea’s Apostolic Administrator added, “The Priest is expected therefore to live his mission in obedience to Christ and the Church.”

The Cameroonian Prelate who doubles as the Auxiliary Bishop of Bamenda Archdiocese explained, “The Priest’s obedience is ecclesial, linked with his own ordination because his mission cannot be realized except in union with the hierarchy of the Church.”

Referencing the Pastoral Guide for Diocesan Priests in Churches Dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Bishop Bibi further said, “Among the virtues most necessary for the priestly ministry must be named that disposition of soul by which Priests are always ready to seek not their own will, but the will of Him who sent them.”

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“All Priests should, therefore, be attached to their Bishops in sincere charity and obedience,” he said and added, “Pastoral love demands that Priests dedicate their own wills through obedience to the service of God and your brothers and sisters.”

At the celebration witnessed by a limited congregation due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 48-year-old Bishop further explained, “Obedience for a Priest is, first of all, a habitual disposition of mind, which leads him to the will of God through the authority of his Bishop. Priestly obedience entails a faithful execution of norms, a recognition of his place in the presbyterium, and of his duty of service to the hierarchy.”

In his July 16 homily, Bishop Bibi emphasized the need for those to be ordained to the Priesthood to know that the solemn promise of obedience shows “itself in fidelity to the magisterium which is the teaching authority of the Church. Such fidelity is indispensable for their own authenticity and for them to be able to offer their faithful a teaching conforming to revealed truth.”

The Prelate whose decisions affecting the Catholic University Institute of Buea (CUIB) as well as some Parishes in the diocese have triggered controversy further said, “Obedience is manifested in the Priest’s acceptance of appointments.”

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He added, “The Priest’s fidelity to his ministry as evangelizer and pastor should be seen in his readiness to accept whatever mission is entrusted to him by his Bishop. A spirit of faith and obedience is needed for this.”

“When appointments are made, Priests should be open to the Bishop and express their ideas in sincere and frank dialogue. But once a decision has been taken by the Bishop, they should accept it in good faith and joy without further objection,” Bishop Bibi said.

He added, “There is no appointment that should be considered as a reward or punishment. When Priests are appointed and given assignments, they should take them up willingly.”

“No Priest should consider himself as untouchable. The Bishop can touch any Priest; he can transfer any Priest; whenever it deems necessary for him to go out and do God’s work. And when the Bishop makes transfers or appointments let us not put other ideas to distract the Priests,” he urged.

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Bishop Bibi went on to invite members of the Clergy to exercise mutual respect saying, “I will like the younger Priests to show respect for the elderly ones and the elderly Priests should treat the younger Priests as their junior brothers with love and respect.”

“There are no Priests who are more important than others; all Priests received the same ordination. The diocesan Priests should be united among themselves and should be genuinely zealous for the spiritual welfare of the whole diocese,” he added.

He further directed that members of the Clergy “always put on their clerical dress,” adding that “If a Priest doesn’t put on his clerical dress, it gives us reason to doubt him.”

“Always wear your roman collar, cassock everywhere you go because your presence can be a source of evangelization even for people who see you,” the Cameroonian Bishop emphasized.

“My dear Deacons to be ordained Priests, the gospel passage on the good shepherd challenges you all to listen to the voice of the good shepherd and to follow wherever he leads you in your ministry. It challenges you to obedience, to unite your will to the will of your Father in heaven,” Bishop Bibi concluded.

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