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Cameroonian Priest Decries Violence against Clergy, Says “Church is not an enemy”

St. Joseph Cathedral of Cameroon's Mamfe Diocese. Credit: Diocese of Mamfe/Facebook

A Cameroonian Catholic Priest has, in a statement, decried violence against members of the Clergy in the Central African country that is reeling under the Anglophone crisis.

In the statement shared with ACI Africa Thursday, June 10, Fr. Christopher Eboka emphasizes the neutrality of the church in the protracted conflict.

The government, Fr. Eboka says, “makes a narrative to the effect that the church fuels the armed struggle while, on the other hand, the non-state actors make a narrative that reduces the Church to an ally of the government so as to justify their naivety of targeting the same Church.”

The member of the Clergy of Cameroon’s Mamfe Diocese adds, “The misconception that the church is a well of money has heightened the appetite of both the organized and non-organized non-state actors most of whom anonymously call and/or text Priests and religious, threatening them and making money from the faint-hearted.”

“That the Church is now the target is now a fact; otherwise, why would the Pastoral Center of Mamfe be attacked just a few days after the same Church hilariously welcomed their own who had been in custody for nine days?” poses the Cleric who serves as the Administrator of St. Joseph's Cathedral of Mamfe Diocese. 

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The Cleric who had been abducted on May 22  and freed May 31 said makes reference to his abduction and the recent attack on the Pastoral Centre of Mamfe Diocese.  

“It is even more worrisome when we realize that the target of the said attack were Priests. Has the focus now changed?” he poses, and continues, “Is the church the new enemy? If yes … know that it won't take long before you realize you wasted energy and resources on the wrong target.”

Two English speaking regions of Cameroon, the North West and the South West, plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed separatists’ movement claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.

In his June 10 statement, Fr. Eboka questions the separatists’ struggle saying, “They are fighting to liberate their people? Really? Individuals they neither know nor feel for?”

Referencing his abduction, Fr. Eboka, says it is "ridiculous" when they accuse him "of going to ask the fighters to drop their weapons, when his sole purpose was to celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost with the Christians of that area which falls under his pastoral care.” 

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“It is evident that the whole ‘struggle’ is itself struggling amidst falsehood, scores-settling, money-making, greed, stealing and power tussle as it's Hallmark,” he says.

The Cameroonian Clergy who serves as the communications Director of Mamfe Diocese that is located within the country’s Anglophone region adds, “A state that so badly needs peace is also putting in preventing measures to sabotage its own very agenda by referring to ministers of peace as fuelers of the armed struggle.”

“Such misdirected acts on the same people in need of liberation and more so on the Church which is the primary institution for the emancipation of a people only discredits the supposedly intended act of liberation,” Fr. Eboka says.

He urges the government and separatist fighters to “make the effort to change the narrative.”

“Indeed, the Church is not an enemy,” he reiterates in his statement shared with ACI Africa.

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