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Holy See Wants “peace, reconciliation” in Cameroon's Troubled Regions: Vatican Cardinal

Pietro Cardinal Parolin with Cameroon's President, Paul Biya during an audience at the Unity Palace on 29 January 2021

The Holy See is closely following the conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and wants the warring parties to seek the path of dialogue for peace and reconciliation in the Central African nation, the Vatican’s Secretary of State has said.

Addressing journalists after an audience with Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya Friday, January 29, Pietro Cardinal Parolin who is on a weeklong visit to Cameroon said their discussions focused on “all crises Cameroon is currently facing, especially the conflict in the North West and South West regions.”

“I am here to show the attention and solidarity of the Holy Father Pope Francis towards the Cameroonian people especially in these difficult moments,” Cardinal Parolin said.

The Anglophone regions of Cameroon, the North West and the South West, plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent.

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An armed separatists’ movement claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.

Since then, the violent conflict has led to the displacement of over 679,000 people. More than 600,000 children have not been able to go to school in the two regions, and at least 3,000 lives have been lost during the four-year skirmishes.

During the January 29 press conference at Cameroon’s Unity Palace, Cardinal Parolin expressed the desire of the Holy See to see an end to the protracted conflict in the two anglophone regions.

“What we seek is peace and reconciliation in these regions and in the country especially in this present situation where there are many other crises starting from the COVID-19 crisis,” the Vatican-based Cardinal told journalists.

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Peace, the 66-year-old Cardinal pointed out, “is the only condition to grow and achieve sustainable development everywhere.”

“I assured the President of the willingness of the Catholic Church and the Bishops in these regions, to give contribution to the solution to this conflict,” he further told journalists.

After the meeting with Cardinal Parolin, President Paul Biya tweeted, “Today, I had a cordial conversation with Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin who delivered a message of peace from His Holiness Pope Francis.” 

The Vatican’s Secretary of State arrived in Cameroon on January 28 on his weeklong visit during which he is expected to visit the troubled North Western and South Western Anglophone regions of the country.

Upon arrival in the Central African nation, the Italian-born Prelate who has been serving as Vatican’s Secretary of State since October 2013 and a Cardinal since February 2014 thanked those who turned up to receive him saying, “I am very happy to be with you. We are going to ask God to bless this visit, to bless Cameroon and the Church of Cameroon.”

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On his part, the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC), Bishop Abraham Komè highlighted the importance of the visit of Vatican’s Secretary of State.

“It is first of all a state visit. It is an imminent member of the Vatican State who is visiting the State of Cameroon and, obviously, the State of Cameroon has a natural link with the Catholic Church. Therefore, we are very delighted about this visit,” Bishop Komè said January 28.

He continued, “It is a brother Bishop who is rendering an imminent service at the level of the Universal Church who is visiting us.” 

Reflecting on the Anglophone crisis, Bishop Komè said, “The offer of mediation by the Catholic Church has been rejected and the request for the President to receive the (Catholic) Bishops has so far remained not granted.”

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“We hope that God will take advantage of this visit to do good things for our country,” the Local Ordinary of Cameroon’s Bafang Diocese implored.

During the January 28 to February 3 meeting, Cardinal Parolin is expected to visit the English-speaking Northwest Region.

Cardinal Parolin presided over Eucharistic celebration Sunday, January 31 at St. Joseph’s cathedral of Bamenda Archdiocese during which, on behalf of the Holy Father, he bestowed on Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya the pallium, a symbol of the latter’s participation in Papal authority.