Pope’s visit to Cameroon only adding to troubles
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Benedict XVI's trip to Africa was hoped to bring the pontiff out of a troublesome spot after various recent controversies put him, and the Catholic Church, in it. Things, however, are not going as planned. Between his public denunciation of condom use and questions over the real reasons why Cameroon's President Paul Biya wanted him there, the Pope will certainly not be redeeming himself in Africa. Read more...
Posted on Flickr by "schlachthausfunf78".
Benedict XVI's trip to Africa was hoped to bring the pontiff out of a troublesome spot after various recent controversies put him, and the Catholic Church, in it. Things, however, are not going as planned. Between his public denunciation of condom use and questions over the real reasons why Cameroon's President Paul Biya wanted him there, the Pope will certainly not be redeeming himself in Africa.
Pope Benedict, who decided to make 2009 the "Year of Africa", began his work on the continent in Cameroon, where a quarter of the population is Catholic. A supposedly symbolic trip which was hoped to represent reconciliation and peace, but before even touching ground, the pontiff had managed to cause outrage afresh. He announced on the plane to Yaoundé that the AIDS crisis "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems". A comment which has infuriated both Europe and Africa. And in Cameroon, it only adds to another controversy. Paul Biya, in power since 1982, is accused of organising the visit in order to serve his own interests.
Benedict's arrival in Yaoundé
Posted on YouTube by "MboaBLOG".
"[Paul Biya] has certainly done a few things that need forgiving"
Tshitenge Lubabu M. K. is Congolese. He works for the magazine Jeune Afrique (Young Africa).
If Cameroon is Benedict XVI's first stop, then on Biya's part it was no accident. He did everything to welcome the Pope into the country. The Cameroonian president might have been a seminarian [priesthood student], but he's certainly done a few things that need forgiving. Amongst others, there was the repression of the riots in 2008 [when people rioted against price hikes and changes to the constitution, the subsequent repression left 139 dead]. Biya doesn't have a particularly great relationship with the country's important religious figures either, especially not Douala - a massive critic of the regime who is not shy of showing his disrespect for Biya's politics. It's in the president's interests to get himself redeemed.
If he got Benedict to come by offering to pay for his plane ticket [according to this site the president and the church went halves on the cost] it's because the Pope is an authority that everyone bows down to; for Catholics, atheists and Muslims, the gesture serves as proof that the Vatican supports the president's politics. And what better blessing to have when Biya is standing for another term in 2011!"
"In saying what he said the Pope is effectively stating that doctrine is more important than lives"
Steve Jackson is a volunteer for an AIDS association in Cameroon. His blog.
I think, following the Pope's comments, there will be plenty of people in Africa questioning their allegiance to the Catholic Church. It would be to wrong to suggest that Cameroonians and Africans in general have no free will. However, no one can claim that the Pope doesn't have huge power here and, tragically, as a result of what he has said, there will be many many more avoidable AIDS deaths.
In one stroke he undid many millions of dollars of work by NGOs, carried out by many thousands of dedicated NGO workers and local volunteers - both Cameroonians and foreigners. It appears that the Catholic doctrine is not to be changed, whatever the circumstances. Abstinence can be a weapon against HIV/AIDS but it's naive to believe that it can be the only tactic. Condoms are essential. In saying what he said the Pope is effectively stating that doctrine is more important than lives."