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Claims of Cameroonian Bishop Blessing Separatists “misconstrued, misleading”: Cleric

Bishop George Nkuo of Cameroon's Kumbo Diocese.

Claims that Bishop George Nkuo of Cameroon’s Kumbo Diocese gave blessings to some members of the separatists, which has been interpreted as the Bishop supporting “the activities of armed pro-independence fighters” have been “misconstrued” and are “misleading,” a Cleric has said in a message sent to ACI Africa.

In the Tuesday, October 27 message, the Director of Communications in Kumbo Diocese, Fr. Leonard Zifac makes reference to the video in which Bishop George Nkuo is seen imparting blessings to a group of men dressed in T-shirts with the writings, “Ambazonia.”

Fr. Leonard explains the context of the video saying the claims are based on the September 29 incident at the end of a private Diocesan ceremony during which Bishop Nkuo blessed the new chapel and installed the Blessed Sacrament at St. Aloysius Minor Seminary in Kitiwum.

At the end of the ceremony, Fr. Leonard says, a group of unarmed men made “their uninvited appearance” and were blessed by Bishop Nkuo who also requested that the “uninvited” guests be served some food. 

“Some have accused the Bishop, and his collaborators spotted in the video, to be in support of the activities of armed pro-independence fighters,” says the Director of Communications in Kumbo.

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The Bishop’s action of blessing the “uninvited” guests at the Diocesan event cannot be “misconstrued to be a support of any untoward action of the pro-independence fighters whatsoever,” Fr. Leonard emphasizes in the message sent to ACI Africa.

The group of “uninvited” guests dressed in dressed in Ambazonia-labeled T-shirts are associated with members of movements in the Central African country pushing for the independence of the so-called republic of Ambazonia, which refers to the Anglophone regions.

That the Local Ordinary of Kumbo imparted his blessings upon the group that showed up at the Minor Seminary in his Diocese has been interpreted as an indication that the Cameroonian Prelate supports the activities of the armed pro-independence fighters.

“The misinterpretation of the video is particularly misleading in a context when the whole nation is aggrieved by another gruesome massacre of school children on Saturday 24 October 2020, in Kumba, barely seven months after the horrendous incident in Ngarbuh,” Fr. Leonard says, recalling the October 24 attack on a school that left at least seven children dead and dozens injured and the February 14 military invasion of Ngarbuh village that left at least 24 civilians dead.

Bishop Nkuo who is shepherding the people of God “in one of the most hard-hit localities by the ongoing crisis has played and continues to play a great role in bringing warring factions to a cease-fire and respect of human dignity,” Fr. Leonard says about his Local Ordinary.

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The Bishop strives to foster peaceful co-existence, the Cleric says, “with all tools available to him, not excluding appeal to consciences, and prayer for conversion.”

“That explains the blessing he gave, as he would to any other human being or stakeholder in the current crisis,” Fr. Leonard says, adding that Bishop Nkuo has “consistently called for an end to violence from whatever source, and for the addressing of the root causes as the best condition for lasting peace in the ongoing Anglophone Crisis.”

The Cleric further says in reference to the Anglophone crisis and the 67-year-old Bishop, “It is a crisis whose effects he himself has personally suffered as a victim of kidnapping, a target of libel from belligerents, and as an unwavering shepherd of a flock decimated daily by killings, displacement, insecurity and its resultant socioeconomic hardship.”

The Anglophone crisis that dates back to 2016 started after Francophone judges and teachers were sent to the historically marginalized Anglophone region. The crisis has resulted in the deaths of about 3,000 people and the displacement of 679,000 others, according to UN Statistics

A week ago, Bishop Nkuo led the people of God in his Diocese to a peaceful march for peace that saw Catholics recite the Holy Rosary. 

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The Prelate underscored the need for Christians to use God-given “weapons” such as the Rosary, Prayer and the Holy Mass.

“We want to win the battle not by guns, but by the Rosary. We remember that in all battles of life, the Rosary is a powerful source of strength and victory,” Bishop Nkuo said October 20 during the celebration of Holy Mass at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Cathedral of Kumbo Diocese.