Bamenda, Cameroon, Dec 30, 2019 / 08:00 am
Pope Francis has promoted an African bishop known for his emphasis on family, community, and traditional values. In an announcement released on Monday, the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the pope has named Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya as the new Archbishop of Bamenda in Cameroon.
Bishop Nkea, 54, has served as the Bishop of Mamfe, also in Cameroon, since 2014. He came to international attention during the 2018 meeting of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment.
In contrast to the situation in many European countries, Nkea said during the synod, the Church in Cameroon and in many parts of Africa is growing – including among young peoples.
“My churches are all bursting, and I don’t have space to keep the young people,” Nkea during a Vatican press conference in October last year. “And my shortest Mass would be about two and a half hours.”
A 2018 study by Pew Research found that church attendance and prayer frequency was highest in sub-Saharan Africa and lowest in Western Europe. Four out of five Christians in Cameroon said that they pray every day.
Bishop Nkea was born in 1965 and ordained a priest for the Diocese of Buéa, Cameroon, in 1992, at the age of 26. In 2013, he was appointed as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Mamfe, becoming the diocesan bishop the following year.
Nkea’s new see, Bamenda, was erected as a diocese in 1970 and elevated to a metropolitan archdiocese by St. John Paul II in 1982. In recent years, the archdiocese has shown clear signs of growth and evalgelization. While the population of the archdiocese remained stable at 1.4 million people between 2015 and 2018, the percentage of Catholics rose from 29% to 42% during the same period.
During the Synod on young people, Nkea credited the Church’s growth in Cameroon to the alignment between Church teaching and the values of Cameroonian society, and the strength of the family as a cultural institution.