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The Catholic Church Doesn’t Discuss Condoms – Bishop Bushu 

Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cameroon has come and gone but the effect of that visit is still fresh in the minds of most Cameroonians. One of those who trailed the Pope during his four-day stay in Cameroon is the Bishop of Buea, Immanuel Balanjo Bushu. In this exclusive interview with The Post, Mgr Bushu talks about the importance of visit, the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for the Catholic Church in Africa, the Church’s stance on condoms and the advent of Pentecostal Churches. Excerpts:You just returned from Younde where you trailed

Pope Benedict XVI during his visit in the country, what is your impression following the visit?

I feel good. It has been a wonderful experience that another Holy Father had the opportunity to be in Africa, through Cameroon. The preparations and the celebrations in Yaounde were good.

What was the motivation of the Pope’s visit?

The key thing was to strengthen the faith of Catholic Christians in Cameroon and the African continent in general. More importantly, was the presentation of the working document of the next synod of the Bishops of Africa. We are going to discuss about the Church in Africa from October 4-25 in the Vatican.

From now to October 4-25, what will you be doing with the document?

The document is supposed to be studied. The delegates, who are going for the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, will be given sometime to present certain topics they have prepared. The lay people of the Church will also be given an opportunity to chip in some ideas on the working document.

What are some of the issues raised the document?

The document is dealing with three main topics that will be discussed at the synod in the Vatican. These include; Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. We are watching for these and to see what details will constitute part of the discussions.

What was the Pope’s message to the Church during the visit?

The Pope realised that the church was very strong. He encouraged us to keep up the strength of the Church and that we should do better than we are doing now. He talked to us on the various aspects of the Church’s life; the Priesthood, the church, Catholic families and the great Saint Joseph, who is the Pope’s patron saint.

How will you react to western media comments on the Pope’s declaration of the futility of condoms?

As a Catholic Church, we do not discuss condoms. It hasn’t got a place. What the Church is dealing with is not head-counting. The church is talking about spiritual and moral issues, which are of the highest order. We are dealing with human lives. You cannot tinker with human lives and the doctrine of the church. The Holy Father’s task is to conserve and preserve that doctrine and hand it on to everybody as the Word of God tells us to do and as the Church teaches.

There are no second thoughts about the position of the Pope. Nobody can change that, being a true Catholic. Since he is the guardian of the Church’s teachings, he would not do otherwise. We are not looking at the western media as an example to emulate. The Pope said many good things, did wonderful celebrations and all we have from the western media during his visit to Cameroon is his nonchalant stance on the condoms as the western media claims.

The western media cannot claim that the Pope does not want to change; he (the Pope) is punishing the African people by not doing that. Whether the Pope is punishing or not punishing, the African people know what to do about family and more. If they (African people) want to use condoms, they are free. The Holy Father is only telling us the mind of the Church and God’s words on the matter. Those are not issues for us to discuss.

How will you react to some observers of the Catholic Church in Cameroon who think that the church is not communicating enough on the circumstances of the death of some of their Priests?

What can the church really give? If we claim to be a State of law, that means we are respecting that, then the church procedure should be allowed to take its course. We have been making attempts to get through the legal means to find out these things and as we talk, there have been no head way.

That is where we are really and with the present circumstances, we cannot talk of what is not a fact. The Bishop Emeritus of Garoua was killed, Sisters and Priests were killed. We have been very concerned about that but we cannot jump the law. If the people who are in the law and the legal system cannot help us, then we have to wait. Time solves everything. We cannot be giving information that is not true. That is where we are.

What stops the Church from doing her own investigations?

How will you do that? When you are investigating, there are certain things that you must work out with the national system, that is, the State legal systems that carry out these things. Even when you are working as a private group, you must work with the State systems. We are a Church and we will want to follow a system that will give us results that are useful to everybody. So, we cannot jump out and start doing private investigations. It is not possible in this country.

What is your take on the name TB Joshua?

I cannot say much about TB Joshua, the Nigerian. I have heard from a few people that he (Joshua) claims to be a prophet, he is healing people and doing miracles. Others have said that he is a charlatan and a fake prophet. In Nigeria, he is little known. We have talked with some of the Priests from Nigeria and they do not seem to know much about him.

Since the television beams out the images he is producing from Nigeria to the outside world, he seems to make his name out of Nigeria than in the country. Those from Cameroon, who have watched him on television and seen some of his miracles on television, have gone there and come back very disappointed and will not want to make a second trip to Nigeria because of that man.

I do not think that he is somebody we need to pay attention to. A lot of people say that the scenes of the television are repeated many times in the course of the month. Miracles are things that reveal the power of God; otherwise it is revealing devil power. If it is God’s power, then you do not need the television for that. It spreads itself out; people will be clamouring to know about it than go and seat and be listening to stories being told.

What is the Catholic Church in Cameroon doing to put a stop to this encroachment from the Pentecostal churches?

We need to give the people the exact knowledge of their faith. If they do know, then people will not abandon their church. Because many do not know their faith, they are not living it. That is why any wind that comes their way takes them along. We are preparing people to deepen their faith. In places where the Priests are working very hard, they teach Christian doctrine to the people, the parishes do not lose any body. But where the Priests are not really doing that, the whole parish is in chaos and the people go out into the wild, sometimes to sects.