Catholic Bishop in Cameroon Suppresses Six “congregations” in His Diocese, Expels Members

Bishop Bibi Michael of Cameroon's Buea Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of Cameroon’s Buea Diocese has “suppressed without exception” six “congregations” that were masquerading as Institutes of Diocesan Right from operating in his Episcopal See.

In his Wednesday, February 16 pastoral letter, Bishop Michael Bibi gives a six-day ultimatum to members of the missionary Sons of Saint Peter, Little Sons of the Eucharist, the Missionary Sons of Saint Mulumba, Daughters of the Sacred Passion, Mater Domini, and Daughters of Mary Mother of the Eucharistic Jesus.

Making reference to the six “congregations”, Bishop Bibi says, “The above-mentioned associations are without exception suppressed and can no longer operate in the Diocese of Buea.”

“Members of these associations have up to the 22nd of February at the latest to leave the Diocese of Buea,” the Cameroonian Catholic Bishop says about members of the six “new ‘congregations’ which had come into the diocese (all from Nigeria).”

He explains, “In their constitutions, for example, these associations refer to themselves as Institutes of Apostolic Life whose members take the three public vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity. Ironically, there is not a single document by my predecessor in which he addresses any of these entities by this title.”


He adds that the Bishop emeritus of Buea Diocese “refers invariably and explicitly calls them Associations of Christ’s Lay Faithful with intention of becoming a religious institute.”

“There was neither any decree by my predecessor raising these associations to the status of Religious Institutes, nor a process towards that end being engaged. Thus, referring to their members as religious, with stages of incorporation beginning with the pre-novitiate, novitiate and religious profession was inconsistent with their states,” Bishop Bibi further divulges. 

He adds in reference to Canon 579, “It is abundantly clear that Bishop Immanuel Bushu, under whose guardianship and mentoring these associations exercised their apostolate, had not yet accorded these entities the status of Institutes of Consecrated Life; there is absolutely no way this would have happened without due observance of the law.”

In the seven-page pastoral letter dated February 16, the Local Ordinary of Buea further describes as vague and confusing the statutes of the associations he just suppressed as well as the process of recruiting and forming candidates to Religious Life and to the Priesthood.

Making reference to the six associations, Bishop Bibi says, “Our study of the respective files reveals that there is so much vagueness and confusion that characterize their statutes that in the final analysis, it is impossible to say what these associations are all about.”

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Although the constitutions of some of the associations mention “some sort of intellectual formation in view of the priesthood”, Bishop Bibi says, none of the “congregations” say anything “more concrete about the way this was to be done, beginning first of all with the admission requirements.” 

“There are serious questions raised when candidates are admitted to orders without fulfilling the conditions required for their valid and lawful ordination,” the Cameroonian Bishop says, and continues, “There are no records in the files showing proof that most of these candidates had received the appropriate seminary and academic formation in view of the priesthood.”

The absence of the records regarding the formation of candidates to Religious Life and Priesthood, Bishop Bibi says, “raises legitimate doubts about the suitability of the candidates and the liceity of their ordination.”

“It is clear, therefore, that some persons belonging to the various associations were clandestinely admitted into the associations and offered the Sacrament of Orders without regard for universal norms, nor reference to all those persons, for example, Rector of Seminaries, Parish Pastors and the Christian Communities, who by right, have a contribution to make regarding the suitability of candidates for Sacred Orders,” he says.

The Catholic Bishop further divulges that some members of the association of the Missionary Sons of Saint Peter committed “ordination fraud” by bribing the superior general in order to be ordained. 


He illustrates, “Expressing their discontentment with the way things happened some members of the Missionary Sons of Saint Peter wrote concerning ‘ordination fraud’ that ‘with the approval of the deacons of the association to onward procession into the presbyteral order, Rev. Fr. Peter Mary Omini Okoi as the superior deceived the Bishop, by removing five of the approved names and replacing them with people whom he had collected huge sums of money from, who are not members of the association.”

“This speaks of fraud, deceit, and simony, practiced by some of these associations which my predecessor may not have been aware of, thus, being lured as a holy pastor into ordaining persons he personally did not know,” Bishop Bibi says, adding that “this could be the reason why some members of these groups which had been existing in Nigeria had to seek accommodation in the Diocese of Buea, far from their home Dioceses where they were well known.”

Bishop Bibi says that even if there had not been any questions regarding the suitability of the candidates being admitted to the Sacred Orders, superiors of the associations took it upon themselves to announce banns, get the results, and present the candidates to the Bishops which is against the law of the Church. 

“The law does not give them such authority and therefore the dimissorial letters they granted were not only invalid but illegitimate, and by that fact, according to the prescripts of Canon 1383, those whom they presented for ordination and who were ordained are ipso facto suspended,” he says.

As a way forward, Bishop Bibi says the Cameroonian Diocese has no obligation towards persons belonging to these associations. 

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While he announces the suppression of the six “congregations” in his Episcopal See and the February 22 ultimatum for the members “to leave the Diocese of Buea”, Bishop Bibi adds, “All those who were ordained to Sacred Orders in these associations, and desire to be incardinated into the Diocese of Buea, have to submit a letter of intent to that effect, latest Tuesday 22nd of March 2022, at the Chancery of the Diocese of Buea.”

Those who wish to join other Dioceses “could be recommended if they are found worthy”, he further says, and advises those who were “incorporated through the rite of profession of the evangelical counsels, by means of public vows … to transfer to any other canonical institute or society of their choice within or outside the Diocese in accordance with the norm of law.”

“The Diocese of Buea deeply cherishes the mission of consecrated persons, who commit themselves in chastity, poverty and obedience, and desires to see it flourish among us,” Bishop Bibi says in his conclusion, and underscores the need for “appropriate discernment, in order that the presence and action of consecrated persons in the Diocese will truly be opportunities for the sanctification of God’s people.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.