Roman Catholic Church Crisis: Days Numbered for Controversial Bishop of Bertoua 0

A violent demonstration staged by Roman Catholic faithful of the archdiocese of Bertoua was dispersed Sunday morning by the forces of law and order. The protesters called for the removal of Monsignor Joseph Atanga, the Bishop of Bertoua. If there’s a place in French Cameroun associated with rebellion these days, then it’s the city of Bertoua, where even the most pious of Catholics are protesting against their regional church leader, Bishop Joseph Atanga. For several years, the bishop who had served in Bafoussam has been a lightning rod for criticism because he has lived in luxury while simultaneously extolling the virtues of poverty and humility. More than anything, though, he has become a symbol of a Cameroonian Roman Catholic Church that has seen its membership swiftly dwindle following a series of scandals including the brutal murder of Bishop Jean Benoit Balla that have shaken public faith in the religious institution.

They reportedly arrived 30 minutes before the Eucharistic celebration and waved placards observing that “Bishop Joseph Atanga Must Go”. Some of the banners read “We’re tired of your mismanagement”, “the Church is not a business center” but were quickly snatched by law enforcement officers who had erected a huge security cordon at the church premise and mined all entrances to the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Bertoua.

In a letter sent to the National Episcopal Conference, the Apostolic Nuncio and the Governor of the Eastern Region, 250 parishioners did denounce what they consider to be “the poor behavior” of Monsignor Joseph Atanga.

They cited the fanciful transfer of priests, the calamitous management of the archdiocese of Bertoua, and the excessive affairs of the Bishop. They are demanding the departure of their “bad” shepherd.

So far, no official of the Roman Catholic Church in the East Region has commented on the prevailing situation. This is an additional scandal in an archdiocese which had already recently defrayed the chronicle through a case of homosexuality.

By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai with files from Cameroun Info.Net