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Pope asks bishops of Cameroon to help each other & help the poor

March 18, 2009

On March 18, the first full day of his week-long visit to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI met formally with Cameroon's President Paul Biya and later with the country's 31 Catholic bishops. In his remarks to the bishops the Pontiff stressed the importance of "fraternal solidarity" among members of the hierarchy, urging them to help each other overcome difficulties such as shortages of priests. Recognizing that Cameroon has seen a noteworthy increase in the number of young men training for the priesthood, the Pope cautioned that "serious discernment" must be undertaken to ensure that men are properly selected and carefully formed for priestly ministry.

Speaking of particular pastoral challenges in the African nation, the Pope asked the bishops to "defend vigorously the essential values of the African family" and to foster "a better understanding of the nature, dignity and role of marriage, which presupposes an indissoluble and stable union." He said that Church leaders must be concerned about the growth of "sects and esoteric movements, and the growing influence of superstitious forms of religion." And he reminded his audience: "The bishop's mission leads him to be the defender of the rights of the poor, to call forth and encourage the exercise of charity, which is a manifestation of the Lord's love for the 'little ones.'"


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