Pope Francis’ appeal for peace in Cameroon
In his Regina Coeli appeal on Sunday, Pope Francis not only appealed for peace in Ukraine but also threw his support behind the national pilgrimage in Cameroon.
“The Bishops and faithful of Cameroon today are making a pilgrimage to re-consecrate their nation to the Mother of God and entrust it to her protection,” said Pope Francis. He added that Catholics in Cameroon were praying for “the return of peace in their country, which has been wounded by violence in several regions for five years,” the Holy Father said.
Become apostles of reconciliation and peace
Bishop Abraham Boualo Kome of Bafang Diocese, in his role as President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, presided over the Eucharist on Sunday. The Archbishop of Bamenda Archdiocese and Apostolic Administrator of Mamfe Diocese, Andrew Nkea Fuanya, preached at the Divine Sunday Mass.
Archbishop Nkea said the Catholic faithful in Cameroon needed to become apostles of justice and peace if the country was to return to peaceful co-existence it once had. The pilgrimage, he said, had only one scope: To implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for reconciliation and peace in Cameroon.
Speaking earlier, when the Marienberg national pilgrimage and prayer vigil was announced, Bishop Kome told journalists, “The National Pilgrimage and Prayer for Peace to take place in Marienberg is an expression of solidarity of all our brothers and sisters towards the people of the troubled regions of our country that suffer in a visible way,” he said.
Cameroon’s five-year war that no one is winning
There are hardly any headlines about the conflict in Cameroon. In fact, there are several conflicts happening in the country.
According to crisisgroup.org, “Cameroon is beset with two major violent conflicts but also faces rising ethno-political tensions on and offline. The bigger conflict between the government and separatists from the English-speaking minority started in 2017 and has killed over 6 000 people. It has displaced 765 000 people, of whom over 70 000 are refugees in Nigeria. According to the UN, 2.2 million of the Anglophone regions’ four million people need humanitarian support. At the same time, about 600 000 children have been deprived of effective schooling because of the conflict. The country also faces a reinvigorated jihadist insurgency with deadly attacks in the Lake Chad area. The war with Boko Haram, centred in the Far North, has killed over 3 000 Cameroonians, displaced about 250 000 and triggered the rise of vigilante self-defence groups. Nascent ethnic clashes along the border with Chad have displaced thousands too. Elsewhere, and particularly following the October 2018 presidential election, ethnic discourse is heightening political tensions on and offline.”
Cameroon’s Marienberg Shrine is a remote location that sits on the outskirts of Edea, Littoral Region, in Cameroon.
The weekend’s pilgrimage started on Saturday, 23 April, with the arrival of various delegations from various dioceses of Cameroon. Most of Saturday afternoon was centred around the recitation of the rosary, meditation, confessions, silence, personal prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
In the evening, at 20.30, the overnight prayer vigil commenced and continued right up to early morning, in time for people to prepare for the procession and Sunday Mass.
The vigil comprised prayers animated by various devotional groups and teaching on what consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means.