The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Cameroon, Archbishop Simon-Victor Tonye Bakot, said in a recent interview that the entire country “awaits with enthusiasm the Holy Father’s visit,” which will begin on March 17.
“Together with the entire Church, the citizens of Cameroon desire to give thanks to God for the honor and privilege of being able to welcome the pastor of the universal Church in his first visit to Africa in Cameroon, the Supreme Pontiff Pope Benedict XVI,” the archbishop told the daily Effort Camerounai.
“We must be attentive to the messages of the Holy Father in relation to the problems that have been made known to him, as well as about the situation that the Church is experiencing in Cameroon and in Africa.”
Regarding the preparations that are being made in the country for the Pope’s visit, the archbishop said that in the capital, Yaounde, “a prayer novena has been underway since March 7 and there are similar initiatives in other dioceses. The bishops have published a pastoral letter in preparation for visit of the Holy Father, in which they underscore the role of the Successor of Peter as Universal Pastor, the Vicar of Christ, whose teaching must be taken as a call to holiness for all.”
“We cannot forget that the Pope will travel to Cameroon during Lent and his message has preceded him. This message centers on fasting, prayer and sharing,” the archbishop added.
Regarding the logistics of the event, Archbishop Tonye Bakot said “52 presidents of the national Episcopal Conferences of Africa, 12 presidents of the Apostolic Regions of Africa and 12 members of the Special Synod of Bishops are expected to attend. We also expect delegates from the 30 dioceses of Cameroon to attend,” he said.
“We have asked all the faithful who will participate in the Mass with the Pope to register with their dioceses and to come in throngs. This mobilization entails careful planning,” he added.