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Catholic Christians Urged To Rekindle Faith 

Interviewed By Walter Wilson Nana — The Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, Mgr. Sébastien Mongo Behon, has said Christians should renew their faith in God, defend the Church and work for a better nation.

He was speaking at the end of the Year of Faith in Cameroon which brought together all the Bishops and over 4,000 delegates across the country at the Regina Pacis Cathedral in Small Soppo, Buea, October 3 – 5. In this exclusive interview, Mgr. Mongo Behon talked about the essence of faith and the take of Bishops on the recent parliamentary and municipal elections.

The Post: What is the celebration of the Year of Faith in Cameroon all about?

Mgr. Sébastien Mongo Behon: As we heard in the liturgical ceremony, it is an opportunity to thank God. The faith we received from our ancestors and missionaries is a gift from God. That is the faith we have celebrated. We have to revive it and recognise God in a new way of relating with Him as individuals and as a community. After celebrating our faith, we have to understand what we have celebrated; meditate on what we are celebrating, pray for our faith so that it should be solid, without wavering.

A communiqué from the Secretariat of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon was sent out after the celebrations in Buea. What was the content?

The Bishops of Cameroon want their parishioners, Catholic Christians and people of goodwill to rekindle their faith and become fervent Catholic Christians. They want their Christians to be authentic and defend their faith in a way that they should be proud of belonging to God and Christ who died and rose from the dead for us Christians. Christians should believe in God, engage themselves in the work of faith and defend the church. No matter your denomination, let us work together for the betterment of Cameroon, for the welfare of everybody and for the good of human beings.

The Bishops raised some worries in that communiqué; homosexuality, incest, secularism, relativism and more.

Yes, it is true. We are human beings. Naturally, sometime we are inclined towards evil. With faith in God and Jesus Christ who died for us, we have to avoid those temptations and evils that come to affect our life and being, our human relationships and affect us in general. We have to know that God is there to help us, give us the strength to fight against the temptations of relativism, homosexuality, incest and the rest. Let us believe that God is there to always help us to do good.

Before the parliamentary and municipal elections, the Bishops of Cameroon sent out a letter to Cameroonians, what was the message?

The Bishops of Cameroon were calling on Cameroonians to use their conscience. If we, Cameroonians, recognise that our consciences are not clean, we should change them. Government has a way of doing its own things and its way of laws. So, we are appealing to the consciences of the people of God, those voting to choose people who have the common good of others at heart, those who think about the betterment of the community. We have to apply justice, equity and the rights of all.

The Bishops were also telling Cameroonians that they have a duty to take care of the affairs of the cities and the nation in general; they have to vote, make the right choices, which will be for the good of all and not for the parochial interest of some individuals. Cameroonians should vote for people who will bring collective happiness to the State. Not everybody will be happy with the outcome, but majority of Cameroonians should be happy.

The elections have come and gone; what is the assessment of the Bishops of Cameroon?

The Bishops have noted that ELECAM is improving. There were minor disturbances but overall, everything went well. ELECAM did the best they could for the moment. We look forward to improvements for the good of God. Democracy is a kind of evolution, let us keep evolving.

How is the Catholic Church faring in Cameroon?

The Catholic Church, like any other society, is going through ups and downs. However, the Catholic Church is on a good footing, it is improving. See the number of people receiving the sacraments, those who go to church, though going to church does not mean that you believe. The consolation is that the external sign is there but we have to turn to God. It is only God that will touch the hearts of individuals but in our eyes, it is good.

In Cameroon, we have celebrated the Year of Faith and respected the prescriptions from the Vatican; what happens after these celebrations?

It is now that we have to start celebrating the Year of Faith. We were preparing to open our hearts, our minds so that God should inspire us so that we should be witnesses of that faith; go out, preach the good news and baptise in the name of the Holy Spirit. This is the beginning of our mission, we have to go out and work.

First published in The Post print edition no 01471

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