Benedict in Cameroon, Day 1: Pope Leo?

Pope pets the Lion.jpgNot to worry–unlike the feisty cub the pope sported with in the Vatican last month, this one at right (AP foto via Rocco) isn’t going to hurt a bit.

Such are the marvelous incongruities of a papal visit to a place like Cameroon. And of course serious issues, like the formation of priests–lots of vocation, but challenges in discernment–and of course liturgy. That’s a big one for Benedict, and a big difference in style with African Catholicism.


Rocco has full texts; CNS’s John Thavis has the roundup:

The meeting with bishops was a simple affair. After adoration of the Eucharist and a few songs from the church’s choir, the pope delivered his talk in French and English. He focused on the bishops’ responsibility to guide the country’s priests and make sure there is “serious discernment” in choosing candidates for the priesthood. Cameroon has enjoyed a boom in vocations and currently has 1,360 seminarians.

The pope said the bishops should have personal and profound knowledge of priesthood candidates, overseeing formation programs that guarantee they are “mature and balanced men” when ordained.


He urged the bishops to be “especially vigilant regarding the faithfulness of priests and consecrated persons to the commitments made at their ordination or entry into religious life.”

“The authenticity of their witness requires that there be no dichotomy between what they teach and the way they live each day,” he said. The pope was not specific, but in the past Vatican officials have expressed concern that the commitment to priestly celibacy be better understood and respected among African clergy.


The pope praised the “festive and joyful” liturgies in Cameroon, which reflect the happiness of those participating. But he told the bishops it was essential that “the joy expressed in this way does not obstruct, but rather facilitates dialogue and communion with God” through the structure of the Catholic liturgy. The dignity of liturgical celebrations must be preserved, especially when large crowds of faithful are attending, he said.

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