interviewBy Choves Loh
Rev. Father Humphrey Tatah Mbuy, Director of Communication of the Archdiocese of Bamenda talked to Cameroon Tribune in Bamenda on the resignation of Pope Benedict.
Could you size up Pope Benedict XVI's eight-year Papacy?
Permit me refuse to limit Pope Benedict XVI to his eight-year as the Pope because he has been in the Vatican much longer. He was the Prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of Faith which is the most important congregation in the Catholic Church. He served in there for over 27 years and made enormous contributions to the success of the Pontificate of the Blessed Pope John Paul II.
He held the ship steadily in turbulent waters. Most of what the Blessed Pope John Paul II would have taken as decisions were influenced by Benedict XVI. Once Pope himself, he made his mark in three things. As an academic, he approached in a very clinical manner problems that could otherwise be morphed and become very complicated. That was the work of a man with three Doctorates. He clinically handled issues and tidied them out for all. He has been very long in the Vatican and knew where it pinches.
And, like every German, Benedict XVI was strict and stern. He stood by the truth and refused to compromise for anything. Others saw it as conservatism or dogmatism but he was convinced that the truth does not change. These were his hallmarks besides the fact that he is a very holy and God fearing man.
What challenges stare the Church as Pope Benedict XVI leaves?
Pope Benedict XVI leaves a church that is being bombarded and almost invaded by new philosophies and new doctrines which are being backed, unfortunately by very serious financial heavy weights. The situation requires a leader who will stand by the truth. He leaves a church that is going through a turbulent and changing world.
Christians are being persecuted in the Arab world and Boko Haram is terrorizing Christians in Nigeria etc. He leaves Christians who must be ready to stand for their faith and ready to die for it. He leaves a church where we are sure is no longer out to evangelize pagans as before but a world where we evangelize intelligent crooks, people who believed in God and no more do so. That is why Pope Benedict XVI now talks of new evangelization. This is the case in Europe where their civilization is based on Christianity but the people have more or less chickened out of it.
They no longer want to see Christianity as the basis and that is why even before leaving, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI created a Pontifical Council for new evangelization. He actually signed a document as to how the church should continue when a Pope resigns and what happens when there is a vacancy in the Vatican. This is in continuation of what Pope John Paul II did in 1996.
Could you profile the next Pope in the face of such challenges?
The election of a Pope is the work of the Holy Spirit. But as human beings we expect a Pope who is able to handle modernity and keep the deposit of the faith, one who will dialogue both what the church teaches and at the same time realizes that circumstances have changed. The church as mother and teacher carries the responsibility of making the doctrine of Christ relevant to every people of every age and speak a language that would be understandable to all the people of the age. That is what the people of the world expect from the next Supreme Pontiff.
How do you see the future of the Church after Pope Benedict XVI?
It is sure that the Church will continue because it is a divine institution. But it will be a Church that will have to stand firm on very basic moral values that our world has the tendency of dramatizing and wanting to break out of the way. For instance, we are now invaded by people talking about same sex marriage. Apart from the fact that this is a contradiction, we cannot allow that God who created male and female for the sake of procreation could have contradicted Himself to now say a man and a man, a woman and a woman should marry. This makes nonsense, especially for us in Africa.
These are things pushed by powerful multinationals with enough money to frighten and cause people to say what they do not believe. We now need a church that is ready to accept that kind of current, accept the shock and still be able to tell the world about the truth. Here you risk sounding irrelevant but the church must realize that it has to evangelize even the culture of the people of the time. The other thing that would affect the church is the media. It has an impact on the world that the children of today rely and live their whole lives on the screen. That is where they get their truth.
And, the Church will have to recognise that in order to be relevant in evangelization it has to enter the media. That is why Pope Benedict XVI, much as he was an old man entered twitter and Facebook and was able to converse with young people around the world.