23, August 2023
Catholic Bishops of Cameroon’s Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province have unveiled liturgical guidelines in response to lamentations about “aberrations” and practices that they have described as “foreign” to Catholic worship.
In their Tuesday, August 22 statement, members of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC) who include Local Ordinaries of Bamenda Archdiocese and the Dioceses of Kumbo, Kumba, Mamfe, and Buea provide five guidelines that they say are in line with Canon 835 § 1.
“For quite some time now, we have received numerous complaints about liturgical aberrations and the introduction of a wide range of practices which are completely foreign and even contradictory to Catholic piety and worship,” BAPEC members say in their statement following a six-day meeting at Bishop’s House in Bamenda Archdiocese.
The Catholic Bishops add, “As moderators, promoters, and guardians of the liturgical life of the Church entrusted to our care we, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, acting in solidum, lay down the following liturgical guidelines.”
Offerings for Mass intentions
BAPEC members urge Priests to celebrate Holy Mass for the intention of the Christian faithful, especially the needy, even if they have not received an offering.
“The Church also instructs that Separate Masses should be applied for the intentions of those for whom a single offering, although small, has been given and accepted,” the Catholic Bishops say, making reference to Canon 948.
During the six-day meeting that concluded on August 22, the BAPEC members say they find it regrettable that the amount of 2,000 CFA Franc (US$3.30) that the Ecclesiastical Province established as offering for Holy Mass is sometimes not adhered to.
“It has been reported and verified that during retreats or meetings organized by some groups, this decision of the Bishops is changed,” BAPEC members say, and add, “The amount paid for Mass offering is reduced to 1,000 CFA Franc. This practice is manifestly wrong.”
They continue, “Those who truly do not have money can meet the Priest and ask for prayers; but if they intend to offer a Mass, they should make the sacrifice of paying the full amount of 2,000 CFA Franc.”
On Tithe, Catholic Bishops of Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province say that “the foregoing obligation will be fulfilled through the Christian Contribution Card System, which requires each Christian to pay 1% of their monthly income.”
They explain, “Priests are therefore not authorized to request or receive money as tithes or the ‘sowing of seeds,’ and Christians should strictly apply what the Bishops have laid down and be satisfied that they have fulfilled their obligation to the Lord.”
Mass Intentions at Funerals
“It is the serious obligation of the Pastor of the Parish to ensure that Mass offerings collected during funeral Masses for the purpose of celebrating Masses for the deceased are properly exonerated,” BAPEC members say.
They direct Parish Priests to “ensure that separate Masses are applied for the intentions of those for whom a single offering has been given and accepted (Canon 948).”
“This is not money to be distributed to concelebrating Priests,” the Catholic Church leaders clarify.
Collections in Learning Institutions
“In the understanding of our Provincial Pastoral Plan, the school or college is a Small Christian Community of and is pastorally dependent on the Parish within whose territorial jurisdiction it is planted,” BAPEC members say.
They go on to direct, “Money collected as Harvest Thanksgiving is part of the Thanksgiving of the Parish and should be forwarded to the Parish.”
Gifts in kind, cash
In their August 22 statement, BAPEC members fault prayer groups and individual members who donate some cash to the church during Eucharistic celebrations and follow up with directives on how it should be used.
“Such gifts are meant to contribute to the good of the Church and her works, and she has provided guidelines for their proper use,” the Catholic Church leaders say.
They add, “No one, not even the priest, can unilaterally dispose of such gifts as if they were personal property.”
Culled from aciafrica