Planned Meeting of Priests in Cameroon’s Bamenda Province to Focus on Child Safeguarding

Screenshot of Fr. Herbert Niba during an interview with EWTN. Credit: EWTN

The upcoming General Assembly of the Association of Diocesan Priests (ADP) in Cameroon’s Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda is expected to examine issues relating to child safeguarding in the Central African nation, ADP official has told ACI Africa.

“As Priests, the issue of clerical sex abuse of minors and vulnerable adults is important. We are going to examine these issues during this meeting and see how it has affected us as Pastors in our respective Dioceses,” the Secretary General of ADP, Fr. Herbert Niba told ACI Sunday, August 22.

Fr. Niba provided the context of the focus on the four-day forum expected to begin Tuesday, August 24 saying, “In the Universal Church, there has been a lot on this topic, especially as the Vatican, since 2018, made new regulations with regards to the abuse of minors and vulnerable persons that made all Episcopal Conferences in the whole world to send delegates to Rome and a revision of the Code of Canon law has been done to that effect.”

The Cameroonian Priest further said that in Africa, the cultures foster expressions of affinity, which calls for caution and general awareness even though “the question of clerical sexual abuse of minors was not an African affair.”

It is against this backdrop that the focus of the General Assembly was adopted, Fr. Niba said, and added, “There was a need and measures were already being taken when these new provisions came from Rome to ensure that Priests abreast themselves with the current reality.”


“We needed a forum where we could discuss how to help ourselves and also be our own brothers’ keeper in the sense of not only protecting but of identifying when there is a failure so as to provide the necessary support, and education,” the lecturer of Philosophy at St. John Paul II Major Seminary in Cameroon’s Mamfe Diocese said.

ADP is an association that fosters unity, love and cooperation among Diocesan Priests, Fr. Niba told ACI Africa, adding that the forum was established to make the members reflect together about the challenges they face in their Priestly ministry.

The Biennial gathering of Catholic Priests ministering in the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province is expected to bring together close to 300 Priests from five Dioceses, ADP Secretary General said during the August 22 interview, adding that participants are to gather at Bishop Rogan Minor Seminary in Cameroon’s Buea Diocese.

According to Fr. Niba, the four-day meeting has been postponed twice due to the protracted crisis affecting the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

Apart from child safeguarding, the Clergy of the Diocese of Buea said Priestly solidarity in the face of the current crises, both the political and health will also be discussed during the assembly.

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“We are having this session to also examine how our common life as Priests should help us face, prepare and avoid situations of infection and also to handle them when they do come and as well Priestly solidarity in the context of the Anglophone crisis,” Fr. Niba explained.

The 34-year-old Cleric highlighted some of the effects of the protracted Anglophone crisis on Church personnel saying, “In the past months and years, Priests have suffered in the ongoing crisis. We lost a Priest of Buea along the Muyuka highway; we lost a Mill Hill Priest in Mamfe, and a Seminarian in Bamenda. And also, we have had abductions of Priests, the recent being the one in Kumbo and in Mamfe.”

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.

An armed movement of separatists 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.


In the August 22 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Niba decried the affliction the conflict has caused saying, “Our Christians are afflicted; we ourselves are afflicted because we bear their pain; we Minister to them, we preach to them, we listen to their confessions, their struggles, and we counsel them. So, health is not just physical health.”

“As Priests, we move a lot to celebrate Mass, to go to our stations to teach. But in several areas of the Anglophone regions, it's difficult to actually move,” he lamented, and continued, “Many of our parishioners have left. In some parishes, people just appear on Saturday evenings and at 10 a.m. on Sunday and then move back to the bushes. Some just remain in their farms for safety, and some have migrated to other towns with their children.”

As a result, the Cameroonian Priest said, “the number of Parishes has reduced and the sustainability of the Parishes becomes a problem.”

Despite these challenges, “Priests in the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province have shown great solidarity to the faithful by bringing the gospel message closer, Fr. Niba told ACI Africa, and added, “Many Priests have been heroic in being closer to the people even in those localities where there is a lot of tension.”

 “This is one sign that shows the reality of the work of shepherding, the reality and the dedication that some of these Pastors have,” the Cameroonian Priest further said.

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Fr. Niba called upon the people of God in the affected regions of the Central African nation “not to lose hope but keep praying and hoping that God will intervene at his appointed time and restore peace.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.