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.”
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.