In the aftermath of the fire that gutted a church in Cameroon, Bishop Aloysius Fondong of the Diocese of Mamfé entered the ruins to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament and found the sacred Hosts and the ciborium containing them to be intact.
Newsroom (22/09/2022 3:15 PM Gaudium Press) — On the night of September 16, armed men set fire to St. Mary’s Church in the town of Nchang, located in the Diocese of Mamfé, and kidnapped five priests, a nun, and three lay people.
In a video released September 21 by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Fondong is seen entering the burned-out Church and making his way through the rubble until he reaches the tabernacle, placed on a wall next to a cross.
After opening the tabernacle, the prelate genuflects and proceeds to remove the ciborium containing the consecrated Hosts from the tabernacle. “What happened is abominable. They are testing the patience of God,” the bishop said, according to a tweet from ACN.
A Vatican News article said that Radio Evangelium of the Diocese of Mamfé reported that some 60 armed men attacked the Catholic community in Nchang on the night of September 16 and kidnapped five priests, a nun, a cook, a catechist, and a 15-year-old girl living with the nuns.
According to the Vatican news agency Fides, the Archbishop of Bamenda, Andrew Nkea Fuanya, said that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom. The prelate commented that there are groups that see the Church as an “easy target to make money.”
“We will not pay a dime” to ransom the nine Catholics kidnapped from a Catholic church on September 16, Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bamenda announced.
The Archbishop, president of the Cameroon bishops’ conference, said that the ransom payment “would create a dangerous precedent,” possibly encouraging other abductions.
Msgr. Nkea reported that the kidnappers, who belong to the Anglophone separatist fighters, initially demanded a ransom of US$100,000, then started bringing it down and have now asked for US$50,000.
The Archbishop also told reporters that the separatists said they attacked St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nchang near Mamfe and burned it down because they were angry the Catholic Church did not support their struggle.
– Raju Hasmukh with files from CNA and Fides