Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buea Diocesan Priests’ Memo Scandal: Father George Nkeze fires back

Claims the worries raised in the memo to Bishop Bushu are already resolved!

By Christopher Ambe

A memo by the Association of Diocesan Priests (ADP) of Buea Diocese in which they accuse their Chief Shepherd, Bishop Immanuel Bushu  Banlanjo, of high -handedness, favoritism and more, and leaked to the press ,  has sparked a hot debate within Catholics in Cameroon especially in Buea  Diocese, The Recorder has gathered.
The Diocese is yet to formally issue a statement of clarification about allegations in the memo.Read the allegations reported here Cameroon: Buea Diocesan Priests Rise Against Their Bishop, Mgr. Bushu

But Rev.Father George Nkeze  Jingwa, Pro-Chancellor of UIDB, also accused in the memo, has in a letter to The Recorder dated November 19, 2012, stated: “The issues raised were addressed and resolved two weeks before your publication”

The memo was copied to His Excellency Piero Pioppo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, the President of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPE), and the Provincial Chairman of the Association of Diocesan Priests.

While many Catholic Christians who think that Bishop Bushu is doing his very best to develop the Buea Diocese both spiritually and infrastructure-wise say the memo was uncalled for, others hold that if priests had to sit down together despite their vow of obedience to their Bishop during their ordination, to draft such a document, this suggested that, there were unresolved crucial problems between the priests and their Bishop, which needed external intervention. 

If not, why should “a household matter as such be brought to the attention of the public?” a Catholic Christian argued. “It is shameful that priests could resort to petition-writing for a matter that they ought to have sat together as a family to resolve”

After this newspaper reported about memo, Bishop Bushu reportedly held a series of meetings in a bid to defuse the tension caused by public knowledge of the memo, which was supposed to be confidential but unfortunately leaked by reportedly by some priests
One of such meetings was the  convening   of Diocesan  Parish Executives .They  met in the Bishop’s conference hall  in Small Soppo and the meeting was  chaired by Bishop Bushu himself, during which the controversial appointments and the entire memo were read to the assembly, and Christian’s reactions noted. 

A Parish executive who attended the meeting told The Recorder that a huge majority of those who also attended the meeting condemned the spirit of the memo, especially as it did not only contain serious allegations but its tone was harsh. The Bishop reportedly asked the Christians to pray for the priests, also promised to see how the issues raised would be resolved for the continued unity of the Church.

It would be recalled that when The Recorder initially approached the Bishop’s House for a reaction, the Diocesan Chancellor Rev Father Evaristus Nkede confirmed that the memo was received by the Bishop, but regretted that it was leaked to the Press. He refused to allow The Recorder meet the Bishop on the matter.

Alleged in the memo to be a favored priest is Rev Father George Nkeze, Pro-Chancellor of the University Institute of Buea Diocese (UIDB).

When The Recorder met him in his UIDB office last week to get his reaction to accusations leveled against him, he readily accepted to grant an interview to that effect. “I am not afraid of interviews, you know”, he assured this reporter.

Although The Recorder was ready to conduct the interview instantly, Rev.Father Nkeze said he was busy with other things at the time. He preferred to have questions emailed to him, which this reporter did last Friday and received in return an acknowledgement email. But when this reporter, after repeated reminders, on Tuesday met Rev Father Nkeze for the responses, he was handed an official letter dated November 19, 2012 in which Rev.Father Nkeze appreciated the efforts of The Recorder to meet him about accusations against him in the memo. 

But surprisingly, Rev. Father Nkeze, apparently scared of the sensitivity  of  the  issues raised in the memo, to  shed more light on them, made the following  three observations in his  letter to The Recorder:  
11If you are interested in  publishing the truth, I guess it would have been proper as a journalist to investigate the issues raised before  publication
22  -    The memo was not addressed to me but to the Bishop
33-     The issues raised were addressed and resolved two weeks before your publication.”

The memo had alleged that funding of some projects like the University Institute of Buea Diocese was wrapped in mystery, and The Recorder expected Rev.Father Nkeze, who is Pro-Chancellor of UIDB to take advantage of the opportunity offered him to put things straight-especially as this clergyman is said to be outspoken. But he chose not to!

 The Recorder was also expecting his reaction to the following allegation against him in the memo:
 “There are certain priests in the Diocese who must be in control of everything that matters. So one person is Pro-Chancellor and the same time Interim President of the University Institute of the Diocese of Buea (UIDB),Bishop’s Delegate in charge of missions with Government and the external world, as if there is no one else in the Diocese who can handle that post. The same priest is known by us to be very influential in the appointments and transfers of priests in this Diocese, especially his friends whom he controls and manipulates to gain his own interest.
“He has therefore influenced the appointment of the Education Secretary and has also brought the St.Thomas Aquinas Catholic Bookshop under his control.

“In the same vein, a priest is appointed to the post of President of university Institute, who left for a Doctorate Degree in Rome less than a year ago and who has not put in one year of course work yet. The Pro-Chancellor, who was removed from UIDB less than two years, has bounced back and now both the education Secretariat and the Bookshop are in the hands of the only person matters in this Diocese”

Although the memo to the Bishop was reportedly signed by Rev.Fr John Tchamnda (ADP chair) for and on behalf of the Buea Diocesan ADP, some priests told The Recorder that it was only a handful of them who supported the memo. “It is a small clique that wrote it. We feel disgraced by that,” one priest, in Molyko, said to this reporter.
( First Published in The Recorder Newspaper,Cameroon,of November 22,2012)

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