2012-10-25 12:22:12

Church in Cameroon begins a New Evangelization

(Vatican Radio) The very definition of the term “New Evangelization” is one of the topics being discussed by the XIII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”.

One aspect which was made clear early on in the deliberations is that the New Evangelization is not just for the older Churches in the West. Christian communities in Africa and Asia are also experiencing the loss of members.

In Cameroon, the Church is trying to do something about it.

“Many of our parishioners, they leave our churches and go to new churches,” explained Bertoua Archbishop Joseph Atanga, S.J., President of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference. “We have to do something to keep them in our churches, and not let them go. If they are leaving our churches, they must have reasons, and we are trying to know the reasons…and see what we can do.”

Archbishop Atanga, who is a Synod Father, is calling on Catholic clergy to be more available to their parishioners.

“Listening to our parishioners is very important, because people need to be listened to, and we have to find time for them, to be there for them,” he told Vatican Radio. “If we are not there for them, they will look for other places where they can be listened to.”

Many of these problems were discussed during the 2009 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

Another current Synod Father, Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda, said after the 2009 meeting, his Archdiocese decided to help build community in the Church.

“We decided to use the Small Christian Communities as a pattern, a pastoral approach, within which the Christians know one another, they live together, they share the Gospel,” he said. “Knowing one another, knowing the capacities of one another, they invite the different members of the community to play a specific role in one of the aspects of evangelization. We call these pastoral commissions.”

These commissions elect representatives to commissions at the deanery and diocesan level.

“I think that is an approach that invites everybody to participate in the work of evangelization, and at the same time invites everybody to collaborate with one another in the work of evangelization,” Archbishop Esua told Vatican Radio.

“I personally think this is an approach that the rest of the Church can benefit from…because small Christian communities in the context of primary evangelization make it possible for all the new Christians, the neophytes, to live in community, to understand the Church is family…and in that family, everybody has a role to play,” Esua said.

Archbishop Atanga also said everyone within the Church must play their part, instead of depending on clergy and religious to do the work of evangelization.

“Laypeople are the Church. Without them there is no Church,” he said. “Working together, that is the way we can move ahead and have strong Churches.”

Listen to the interview by Fr. Moses Hamungole with Archbishop Atanga: RealAudioMP3

Listen to the interview by Fr. Moses Hamungole with Archbishop Esua: RealAudioMP3

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