Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

17 October 2013

Cameroon-Holy See - Convergence of Values

President Paul Biya and Pope Francis meet on Friday at the Vatican.

Values of peace, social justice and inter-religious harmony are likely to have favourable echoes in the Vatican today when President Paul Biya meets the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis. The Vatican State and Cameroon share these values and their leaders in words and deed personify images that lend credence to their perpetual advancement. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the seventy-six-year-old Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires elected Pope over six months ago, has been inextricably attached to yearnings of the poor and the under privileged throughout his life. "My people are poor and I am one of them", he has said more than once.

Elected Supreme Pontiff on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis has always placed particular emphasis on the "prophetic mission of a Bishop", his being a "prophet of justice" and his duty to "preach ceaselessly" the social doctrines of the church and also "to express an authentic judgement in matters of faith and morals." The political philosophy of the Cameroon Head of State; "Rigour and Moralisation" are obviously real life expressions of the human desire for social justice and harmony. The constant desire of President Paul Biya for peace and stability within and beyond the fatherland, the crusade for moral probity, good governance and social justice emerge as high watermarks of Cameroon's value system. Inter-religious harmony, highly valued and promoted in Cameroon is another area of unanimity between the Vatican and Cameroon. Thus, the meeting between President Paul Biya and Pope Francis on Friday is expected to witness a convergence of values.

As leader of "an island of peace and stability" whose philosophy of peaceful resolution of all conflicts secured the Bakassi peninsular for the fatherland without firing a shot, President Paul Biya is a highly valued guest today at the Holy See. The much celebrated inter-religious harmony in a country that remains a microcosm of the African Continent, places Cameroon as a valued partner of the Vatican. The three papal visits to Cameroon in recent memory are all indices of these shared values between a Holy entity and a Republic.

In barely six months at the helm of the Vatican State, Pope Francis has received thirty six Heads of State and Government in audience. The official visit of President Paul Biya today, October 18 at the Vatican is in line with reciprocal honour and respect shared between the two institutions. It will be the fourth time the President will be in the Vatican. In 1986, the Cameroon Head of State paid his first official visit. The funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005 was the second occasion for the presidential visit. Accompanied by First Lady Chantal Biya on May 1st, 2O11, President Paul Biya took active part in the beatification ceremony of John Paul II. He will therefore be on familiar holy territory today, sharing the same values of humanity, social justice and the building of bridges of peace anywhere, anytime.

The Vatican is an Independent State situated in Rome, the capital city of Italy. With about one thousand inhabitants within forty four hectares of territory, the residents of the Vatican are mainly members of the clergy. Close to three thousand people work in the Vatican but reside out of the City. Independent since February 11, 1929 following the Latran accords with the Government of Benito Moussolini, the Vatican is headed by the Pope with absolute executive, legislative and judicial authority. With observer Status at the United Nations, the Holy See represents the world Government of the Roman Catholic Church with political and diplomatic influence principally as the Pope wields enormous moral authority.

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