, 10 January, 2020 / 4:07 AM
At the ongoing 43rd Seminar of the Catholic Bishops of Cameroon, the shepherds of the people of God in the various Dioceses of the Central African nation are seeking to deliberate on strategies that can facilitate the rejuvenation of their collective forum, the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC).
Speaking at the opening of the Seminar Sunday, January 5, the Local Ordinary of Obala, the host diocese, Bishop Sosthene Leopold Bayemi set the primary agenda of their collective meeting as Bishops saying, “We must reflect on the renewal of our Bishops' Conference.”
Referencing the theme of the six-day Seminar, "Which Bishops' Conference do we want?” Bishop Bayemi told his brother Bishops gathered in his diocese, “This is a clear expression of the desire to revitalize our beloved organization.”
“We want a prayerful, living, dynamic Episcopal Conference that allows our Episcopal College to be more of a sign of God's holiness and an instrument for the proclamation of the Good News,” the 55-year-old Bishop who Chairs CENC’s Commission for Social Communication said.
The Cameroonian Prelate went on to provide some orientation of what he considered a renewed conference.
“We need an Episcopal Conference where cultural diversity is an asset and not a hindrance to its growth,” Bishop Bayemi said, adding that he envisages a forum holding “high the values of our particular Church, that brings a response of faith to the men and women of our time.”
He looks forward to a Bishops’ forum that "gives women, young people and children reason for hope," while walking "in brotherhood with the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and with Muslims."
For him, the renewal of their collective forum as Bishops would be "an Episcopal Conference that works for the development of every man and woman, an Episcopal Conference that is a reference point for the leaders of our country, an Episcopal Conference centered on the person of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.”
The national body of Bishops will need to facilitate the realization of CENC’s objective, that is, “to enable all the Bishops of Cameroon to jointly exercise their pastoral offices in order to further promote the good that the Church offers to men, especially through forms and methods of apostolate suitably adapted to the present circumstances,” the Local Ordinary of Obala reflected.
He further made reference to Vatican Council II, particularly the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium in highlighting four aspects that can aid in the process of evaluating the Conference.
“The first is the ministerial nature of the Episcopate. As bishops, the (Vatican) Council reminds us that we exercise a ministry, that is, a service,” Bishop Bayemi said and added, “We must always have at heart to transmit the apostolic seed, the deposit of faith. This simply means that our being, our action, our deeds must reflect the life and the heritage bequeathed by the Apostles to the Church. We are their successors.”
“The second is the Hierarchical Communion,” he noted and explained, “This reminds us that we are obliged to honour the requirement of communion in our interpersonal relationships within our college.”
“The third point is speaking of relations within the college,” the Prelate highlighted and clarified, “the principle of solidarity is strongly emphasized and recalled: each Bishop who is a member of the college must be in solidarity with the college through his pastoral action.”
The Prelate further pointed to the administrative role of Bishops as another area that CENC needs to look into saying, “Our evaluation should concern the management of people, equipment and finances.”
"Our local Church needs to give itself the means of modern management for the new Evangelization and its action in development in general for the benefit of our people," Bishop Bayemi concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa