Catholics in Cameroon react strongly to archbishop’s letter calling for donations
Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala in Cameroon has called on the Catholic faithful to help make sure priests in the archdiocese are getting sufficient financial assistance during the COVID-19 lockdown.
As in many places around the world, Mass and liturgical celebrations with the people have been suspended for the past month in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
And in a circular letter issued on April 18, the archbishop asked the baptized faithful to help him fulfill his canonical duty to financially support the clergy and ensure that « priests are provided with daily sustenance in these difficult times ».
The 61-year-old archbishop offered two ways they could do that.
« First of all, I invite you to continue following (live-streamed) Mass, » he said. « Then I ask you to take the usual gifts and offerings to your parishes, » he added.
Archbishop Kleda, who has led the Church in Douala since 2007, also urged priests to accept the difficult living conditions imposed by the pandemic.
« What is essential is that the food ration be assured in all the presbyteries, » he said.
Strong reactions among the faithful
Not all Catholics in the archdiocese were happy with the archbishop’s letter.
« Really! What is the Catholic Church’s contribution to the people? » said a woman named Patricia.
« So they think that Christians don’t also need their food and healthcare? This time I must rebel! » she said in response to a post on the archbishop’s letter that Jesuit Father Ludivico Lado put on his Facebook page.
« This again raises the problem of financing the Church, » said another local Catholic named Joselin.
« Can’t priests work? They all receive good education, won’t they be more useful to their community? » she said.
Other members of the archdiocese took a more reflective position.
« This announcement to God’s people suggests a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible for the good of the Church, » said Grace Mbele Kedy.
« This health crisis, ultimately, will have its good and bad sides, and I hope it will be food for thought for the Catholic Church around the world, and in Cameroon in particular, » she continued.
« In a world that is increasingly in crisis – a crisis of values, a crisis of spirituality, a financial crisis, and so on – shouldn’t the Church maintain an attitude of reaching out to Christians? Shouldn’t the dioceses, as well as the communities, rely a bit more on their financial autonomy? Shouldn’t the way of life of some priests be the subject for real reflection? » she wondered.
But Vivien Meli said the people of the archdiocese had a duty to support their priests.
« Priests are the responsibility of the Catholic people, even though we can question the management of certain resources of the dioceses. We must continue to support our parishes and priests financially and materially as best we can, » she said.
« This is also a Christian duty. »
Lucie Sarr (Traduction La Croix International)
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