Archbishop Andrew Nkea of the Bamenda Archdiocese has called on the people of the town of Bamenda to remain strong and steadfast.
In his address at the Pallium Imposition Mass celebrated by the Pope’s envoy, His Eminence Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Archbishop Nkea noted that the ceremony was taking place within a politically tensed dispensation.
“Your eminence, you have come to visit us at a time when the people of this ecclesiastical province corresponding to the civil territorial circumscription of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon have seen a lot of suffering. Many of our people have suffered a lot from a situation they did not create and thousands are either internally displaced or have escaped as refugees. Businesses are shut down and for about four years our children were not allowed to go to school. Children were used as bait for political motives and struggle,” he said.
Noting that thousands among whom are religious leaders have been victims of the crisis, he maintained that “… the church continues to carry the gospel message as a light of hope to a traumatized people”.
Despite a lockdown called by separatists, thousands turned out to attend the ceremony, amidst tight security.
“Your eminence, we the people of Bamenda lack many things but one thing we don’t lack is faith. The presence here of the people of Bamenda in such great numbers is a sure sign that their faith is greater than politics,” Archbishop told the Vatican envoy.
“The faith of the people of the archdiocese of Bamenda,” he added, “is greater than intimidation and their presence here is proof that the devil is a liar”.
Hope for peace in North West, South West
Prior to the Vatican Secretary General’s visit to Bamenda, he had made a first stop in the capital, Yaounde where he met with Africa’s long-serving President, 88-year-old Paul Biya, with whom he discussed the need to restore peace in the country’s war-torn regions.
Doubling down on the message of peace, the Archbishop expressed hopes that the presence of the Vatican’s envoy would hasten the process and bring the belligerents to the table.
“We are happy because, in this time of crisis we see you as a messenger of peace we see you as an ambassador of reconciliation, we see you as a promoter of justice, we see in you the presence of the Holy Father, Pope Francis himself among us. Even when the Holy Father says nothing, his presence is a consoling presence,” the Archbishop remarked.
“Your Eminence,” he went on, “we shall not waste the chance that your presence offers us to contribute for peace and justice and reconciliation. We are sure that your coming to Bamenda will be like the rain that never falls without watering the ground. So, too, you will not leave us to continue fighting but you will leave us as people who will start loving one another”.
Among those in attendance at the grandiose ceremony, was the Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh who represented President Paul Biya.
“Bring our gratitude to the head of state for sending your high person to represent him at this occasion for it shows the seriousness with which the state is treating the visit of the Cardinal Secretary f state of His Holiness,” Archbishop Nkea stated.