By Davide Dionisi
"The Pope is well aware of the difficulties that you have experienced in recent years and which you are still experiencing. He implores the Lord's consolation for you, especially for those who have been victims of violence or who, in this crisis, have lost friends and loved ones."
Those were the words delivered by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in his homily at Mass in Bamenda for the imposition of the pallium on Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya.
He expressed Pope Francis' closeness to the people of Cameroon, as well as to the entire African continent.
The Pope, added the Cardinal, "joins in the desire for peace and reconciliation that rises from this beloved and wonderful land toward God."
Reconciliation, compassion, hospitality
Cardinal Parolin arrived in Cameroon last Thursday accompanied by Monsignor Ivan Santus, an official with the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.
His visit is meant to be a concrete sign of the Pope’s commitment and solidarity, and a call to promote compassion, reconciliation, and healing, especially in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 humanitarian emergency.
In communion with the Pope
"The Pallium," explained Cardinal Parolin in Bamenda Cathedral, "is a symbol of a special bond of communion with the Pope. It is woven from the wool of lambs blessed by him on the feast of St. Agnes, and evokes the figure of the Good Shepherd, who goes in search of the lost sheep and places it on His shoulders. It represents the power that the Archbishop exercises in his Diocese, in communion with the Supreme Pontiff. It is a sign rich in meaning, which powerfully inaugurates the mandate of every new Archbishop: his new ministry is placed from the beginning under the sign of communion, in obedience and union with the Holy Father and in communion with his brother Bishops."
With the Gospel in his pocket
"While many voices resound around us; while so many want to act as teachers in our lives," the Cardinal stressed, we need to give "unique weight to the Word of Christ.”
“For this reason,” he added, “the Pope, on several occasions, has invited us to carry a small book of the Gospels with us. ‘The Gospel in your pocket’ is not a slogan but a spiritual program."
The effectiveness of the Word
"Jesus desires good for humanity, and therefore frees us from Evil," said Cardinal Parolin. "Jesus is able to completely free us precisely through His simple and powerful Word: Come out of him! There are no magic formulas; not even strange gestures: it is His Word that is exceedingly effective."
The Secretary of State underlined that "Evil exists and Christ is able to defeat it. It is up to us to carry on this battle every day.”
Serenity and vigilance
Cardinal Parolin then evoked the teaching of the Apostle Paul, indicating two important themes that must mark each person's spiritual journey: serenity and vigilance.
"Serenity: because with Christ we are victorious, in our adherence to Him through prayer and the Sacramental life. Vigilance: so that we can discern Evil where it lurks, beginning with our own hearts.”
Seed of hope
Cardinal Parolin then urged the faithful of Cameroon to combat the violence, divisions and fratricidal struggles that afflict the nation.
"He who fights against the evil that dwells in his heart becomes a bearer of good and peace in his family, among his friends, in his community. He thus becomes a seed of hope for all.”
Avoiding the risk of spiritual pride
The Vatican Secretary of State concluded his homily by recalling that after two thousand years, amazement before the Lord Jesus is a precious attitude to be guarded with care.
"We should never stop reflecting on this Mystery, so that we avoid the risk of spiritual pride, of those who are convinced that they already know everything about Jesus, without realizing that He is always greater than we can humanly comprehend. We should never cease to marvel before the fundamental Mystery of our Christian faith: that of the Son of God who became man to set us free.”
The Mass in the Cathedral of Bamenda was attended by a large number of the faithful, offering a sign of affection for Archbishop Fuanya and of joyful communion with the Pope who was represented by his Secretary of State.