“It wouldn’t be difficult to walk away from these situations, but that is not what we do” – Bishop Paul Swarbrick
We are continuing to raise awareness of the long-running Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. The conflict has now claimed over 4,000 lives and displaced a further 750,000 people – some fleeing over the border into neighbouring countries. There are daily reports of atrocities and, recently, a priest was abducted before later being released.
In a series of interviews on the crisis, we’ve heard from Missio’s National Director, Fr Anthony Chantry as well as getting the on-the-ground view from Fr Richard Njoroge MHM, a missionary in Bamenda.
Today, we are led in reflection and prayer by Bishop Paul Swarbrick, our Lead Bishop for Africa.
My name is Paul Swarbrick, and I’m the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Lancaster, here in the northwest of England. I’m a member of the Department of International Affairs for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and I have particular responsibility for relations with Africa.
I am talking now about the situation existing in Cameroon and there we are experiencing gross human rights violations and attacks on fundamental services and infrastructure facilities within the country. We’re conscious that it is an escalating situation and the difficulties are overwhelming, distressing and complex.
Some may be tempted to give up completely. Why bother? What possible difference can we made, but we can’t do that because we are people of hope, and we want to express to the people of Cameroon, both our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church there, but all members of the population irrespective of creed and race – whoever they are. We wish to express a message of solidarity and of hope that we have not forgotten you we are doing what we can, even if it is very little, to try to give you help and to sustain your hope.
It wouldn’t be difficult to walk away from so many of these situations. But that’s not what we do.
Shortly, I will be hoping to go home from my office and find things calm and in order, the people in Cameroon, many, many of them cannot do that. They are homeless. They are at the mercy of forces that are not good.
So let’s just remind them that the Lord has not abandoned them. Here is a prayer – a prayer that is used at the end of the rite of Confirmation. I pray this for all the people of the Cameroon, and also for all those who are trying to reach out and support them and work for their good.
O God, who gave the Holy Spirit to your Apostles
and willed that through them and their successors
the same Spirit be handed on to the rest of the faithful,
listen favourably to our prayer,
and grant that your divine grace,
which was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed,
may now spread through the hearts of those people of Cameroon,
particularly those who believe in you,
but also those who long to know you.