LIVE FROM THE SYNOD
It's 3 days to the end of the 2018 Synod of Bishops. The papers and interventions were all made
the first ten days, and the Language groupings have been working in separate halls to vote the
propositions to be included in the working draft of the post Synodal document. Several scores of
journalists have been parading the streets of the Via Della Conciliazione, scouting for any
interview, as the 267 Bishops make their way to their apartments. But despite the restlessness of
media, the synod fathers will only speak during official press conference sessions organised by the
general Secretariat. One such press conference just ended, hosted by Cardinal Marx of Germany and
Andrew of Cameroon. And the Holy Father just made his appearance into synod hall during coffee
will lead the Angelus, then sit to listen to a resume of the morning session. As he entered, Bishop
Andrew stole the opportunity for a few minutes chat.
Below is what followed:
Buon Giornio Santo Padre.
Buon Giornio, Excellenza, da d'ove vieni....Cameroon? (Good morning, where do you
Si, sancto Padre. Andrew Nkea is the name, I am the Bishop of Mamfe, the first you ever
appointed for Cameroon, in 2013.
Bravo, bravo, excellenza! So it must be your first or second synod?
My first, Sancto Padre, and I must say I am very delighted with the theme chosen for
synod: "Youths, Faith and vocational discernment."
It has been the fruit of 2years of hardworking by the General Secretariat, and I
appreciate the feedback from the Dioceses worldwide, especially the spirit of pastoral sollicitude of
the bishops and other participants. The Lord is leading the Church, step by step.
It will go down in history that this is the first ever synod that had the
youths themselves. And their inputs, Your Holiness, have been very remarkable. This means the Church, as
Mater et Magistra is truly making a 'prefential option for the young'.
Da vero!. The Spirit keeps speaking, and we must be ready to listen. Unless we
will not recognise the true needs of our flock. When we discern, then we can truly intergrate and
accompany as shepherds.
As I came to Rome, at several moments I was lost in wondering contemplation, asking
pastoral strategy the Church wants to design for the youths. But after the first talks, I realised it
was not so much about what the Church had to do for youths, but also about what the youths can do _for
Si, si what the youths can do for the Church and _with the Church. Remember, they
only the object of Evangelization but also agents themselves! This became clear to me after the World
Youth day in Krakow, Poland 2016. Come, let me tell you something, but wait. Let us get some
( Pope beckons on a waiter and requests: 'Un cappuccino' ..'con latte, per due" he adds. As the
are brought, the Pope serves the first glass to Mgr Nkea who is visibly stunned with the Pope's
humility, but takes it, anyhow, and says: " Grazie, Sancto padre " and the Pope responds Prego,
Excellenza!. The discussion continues...)
The words of my predecessor are always before me: Each generation is like a new
that must be evangelised for Christ. And the task of today cannot be done without youths.
Indeed, your Holiness. Permit me share this with you. Last year on Palm Sunday, I held
for the youths of my diocese in the Cathedral. Despite the insecurity and violence that has marked our
local church for over two years, they came in their numbers. Holy Mass lasted over 2hours followed by
many activities to round up the weekend.
Bravissimo! The youths of today are like the Greeks who came to the apostles to
wish to see Jesus". I pray they never get disappointed entrusting their time and talents to us pastors.
I see their great potential not only only during youth gatherings, but also in pilgrimages and spiritual
exercises. Un momento We have never organised a World Youth day anywhere in Africa, right?
Not yet, but we look to the future with hope. But Sancto Padre, I must confess that
the songs and vibrant celebrations my youths had for 3days, whenever I looked into their eyes I could
tell that beneath those smiles were hidden fears and tears. Some of them have been rendered homeless,
some have lost loved ones and others have been out of school for the 3rd year now due to a prolonged
crisis in the Anglophone regions in Cameroon.
Ma donna mia! Crisis? Ah yes! I heard recently from a delegation of the Focolarini
at Lopiano. When your president visited me last year, I gave him an olive branch and reminded him to
respect the rights of minorities. How is the situation now?
(leaning towards the Pope) Mi dispiace I'm sorry to say...not much has changed. In
has become an armed conflict, and there is violence on both sides. Several voices have asked the
government to resume the Dialogue they stopped, but little is being done in that direction. During the
first week of this Synod, there were presidential elections back home and I heard from the Nuntio, Mgr.
Julio Murat, that the incumbent just got re-elected! But we are praying for peace and a United
Ma c'ome! Well. The Lord is in charge. But that means the youths of your local
be mobilised to look to the future with hope. Tell them: Non abbiate paura!. They are the hope of the
Church and of Society.
Si, Sancto Padre, and that is why in my intervention I said the Church must do
for youths. If the moral power of the Church does not speak up against corruption, our economies will
stagnate, and the Gospel will remain a lofty idea to disenfranchised youths.
Yes, I heard of your bold intervention. The Church needs brave shepherds, and
ones too, who lead by example. The barq of the Church is under attack; from within and without...( A
bell goes by) It's time for the plenary. We must continue later. You said you are Andrew right?
Si, Sancto Padre, Andrew Nkea, from the Diocese of Mamfe - Cameroon.
( 2days after, Bishop Andrew is elected a member of the Secretariat to draft the copy of the
Post-Synodal Exhortation, and to prepare for the next Synod. )
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the discussion, which took place after the committee finished presenting to the
Holy Father, the Message to the people of God.
By Fr. Herbert Niba
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