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Cameroonians Pay Glowing Tribute to Late Cardinal, To Be Laid to Rest in 12 Days

The Late Christian Cardinal Tumi, Archbishop emeritus of Cameroon's Douala Archdiocese who died Saturday, April 3 will be laid to rest on April 19 and 20.

Members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and Laity in Cameroon including government officials have continued to pay glowing tribute to Christian Cardinal Tumi who died April 3 at the age of 90.

The late Cameroonian Cardinal is expected to be laid to rest in 12 days, Archbishop Samuel Kleda who succeeded him as Archbishop of Cameroon's Douala Archdiocese in November 2009 has announced.

In his Tuesday, April 6 communiqué, Archbishop Kleda says, “The funeral of His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi will take place on 19 and 20 April 2021 in Douala.”

The Cameroonian Archbishop further invites the people of God under his pastoral care to continue praying “for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Tumi.”

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A day after the Cardinal’s death, Pope Francis shared his condolences saying, “On learning with sorrow of the death of our brother Cardinal Christian Tumi, I wish to express my condolences and my union in prayer with the College of Cardinals, the family and friends of the deceased, as well as with all those who mourn him.”

The Holy Father added in his April 4 message referencing the late Cardinal, “He was a faithful collaborator of the Popes, assuming various offices in the Roman Curia. May the Lord welcome His servant into His peace and joy!”

In his native country of Cameroon, Cardinal Tumi’s efforts toward peace in the Central African nation and his solidarity with marginalized in society have been acknowledged with appreciation.

“The death of Christian Cardinal Tumi is a big loss to us but we thank God all the same for his long life and the service to the Church. He has really been an icon of the Catholic faith in Cameroon,” Bishop Agapitus Nfon told ACI Africa.

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In the Wednesday, April 7 interview, Bishop Nfon added, “Some of us knew him as far back as the Major Seminary. When he was made Cardinal, he came to visit us. I remember he told us never to leave the Seminary until we were asked to go because the call is a gift from God. We cannot call ourselves.”

The late Cardinal “has been a very exemplary person in his simplicity,” the Local Ordinary of Cameroon’s Kumba Diocese further said, adding that in his way of living, the Cardinal “was very open, attentive to the plight of the needy and the poor; a man of deep faith who stood for the truth and justice.”

The Cameroonian Bishop implored, “We pray that God in his goodness will reward him in his Kingdom.”

“Considering that he died in the Easter Triduum is a blessing very few people have. We all believe that such a person could not die in a day other than that. It is an assurance that he is with God. May his soul rest in peace,” Bishop Nfon told ACI Africa April 7.

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On his part, Archbishop Andrew Nkea of Cameroon’s Bamenda Archdiocese remembers the late Cardinal as an apostle of peace.

In an interview with Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV), Archbishop Nkea said in reference to the late Cardinal, “I remember him very strongly as an ambassador of peace; someone who worked tirelessly in spite of his failing health, to make sure that peace is restored in the North West and the South West regions.” 

“A strong man of faith, a real servant of God, a fearless preacher of the truth, and someone who loved the Church with his whole heart, and who lived his whole life at the service of God and his people,” the Cameroonian Archbishop further said during the April 6 interview.

For Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaoundé Archdiocese, the Central African nation has lost an important figure who worked tirelessly for the Church and the nation. 

“It is a great loss for our church and country but we believe God has called him at the appointed time. He was the pride of our local church, the universal church as well as for our country Cameroon,” Archbishop Mbarga said during the April 6 interview with CRTV.

Cardinal Tumi, the Cameroonian Archbishop went on to say, “put all his energy, wisdom, life and determination at the service of the Church and the nation. He leaves behind a multidimensional legacy, which will forever be remembered.”

Meanwhile, Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya has, in his condolence message, eulogized Cardinal Tumi as “a true servant of God and a messenger of peace.”

“The message of peace, love and progress that he carried throughout his pastoral ministry will forever remain in our memories,” President Biya says in his solidarity message issued April 5.

In the message addressed to Archbishop Kleda, Cameroon’s President adds, “I would like, in this painful circumstance, to transmit to you, as well as to the community of the faithful and beyond to all those who loved Cardinal Christian Tumi, the deepest condolences of the whole Nation, to which I associate my personal feelings of deep compassion.”

According to human rights activist Agbor Balla, “Christian Cardinal Tumi was a staunch advocate of a just society, a defender of the rights of the oppressed, suppressed and marginalized. His death is a great loss to our nation and humanity. May he find eternal rest in the Lord.”

On April 4, Cameroon's opposition leader Ni John Fru Ndi eulogized Cardinal Tumi as a fearless pastor who preached justice and truth.

“Cameroonians have missed an opportunity to benefit from the savvy of this Prelate who selflessly proposed a panacea to end the ongoing socio-political crisis. The only thing we can do as humans at this sad moment is to pray for his gentle soul to find peace at the bosom of the Most High,” the Chairman of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) said in his condolence message shared with ACI Africa.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon described the late Cardinal as a “tireless advocate for dialogue for an end to the conflict in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, human rights, and the fight against corruption.”

“Cardinal Tumi contributed to Cameroon’s democratic development. His legacy as a defender of peace will resonate for generations,” the U.S. Embassy officials add in their statement.

Ordained a Priest in 1966, late Cardinal Tumi, the first to be named Cardinal in the Central African nation, was appointed Bishop of Cameroon’s Yagoua Diocese in December 1979 and ordained Bishop in January 1980.

Two years later, he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Garoua. He succeeded Archbishop Yves-Joseph-Marie Plumey in 1984. 

He was elevated to Cardinal in June 1988 and transferred to the Archdiocese of Douala in 1991.

Cardinal Tumi was vocal, cautioning against bad governance, rampant corruption and electoral malpractices. He was a renowned supporter of peace initiatives in the Central African nation.

At the peak of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, the late Cardinal launched a nationwide crusade advocating for peace in the troubled Northwest and Southwest regions.

“The popular initiative for peace that we want to put in place will not be a rosary, incantations, a profession of faith or an avenue for strong declarations,” Cardinal Tumi said in August 2019, and added, “The crisis can no longer be healed by simple words or condemnation, but with concrete actions on the field.”

Last November, Cardinal Tumi was abducted in the troubled Northwest region of Cameroon. He was freed on November 6 after a night with his captors.