Study Day in the Provincial Vicariate of Equatorial Africa (VEA)

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Study Day in the Provincial Vicariate of Equatorial Africa (VEA)
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«The sacred and violence » was the theme of the day dedicated to the intellectual life, which took place on Friday, 9 September 2016,in Yaoundé, Cameroon, during the assembly (vicarial days)of the Provincial Vicariate of Equatorial Africa(VEA). The work of the scientific forums, which were open to the public, was animated by Brother Justin Ndema, who is responsible for studies in the vicariate. Four speakers addressed the theme: Brothers Eloi Messi Metogo, op, Jean-François Bour, op, Bernard Ntamack, op and Imam Abu Moussa, an official of the mosque of La briqueterie neighborhood of Yaoundé.

Brother Bernard Ntamack who spoke first, developed the biblical aspect of the issue by showing how from the origins of the Bible, violence can be observed in the disputes of the Old Testament by those who defy the law of God. Religion, he said, often expresses something violent. The concepts of sacrifice and of the scapegoat express this reality. Faced with the reality of violence, which appears to be endemic in the world, Christ offers himself as the way to a solution, through non-violence, forgiveness and the welcoming of sinners.

Brother Eloi Messi Metogo, in a systematic theological vision, began with the following question: Is the sacred a part of violence? For him, the sacred is not necessarily violent; on the contrary it allows violence to be overcome in its nature. Starting from the link that René Girard establishes between violence and the sacred, Brother Eloi Messi, led the audience to understand that itis Christ who breaks the circle of violence. Therefore, we must, in the following of Christ, live and affirm the link between sacrifice and service. Jesus sacrificed himself by giving his life.

Imam Abu Moussa relied on the etymology of the word, “Islam,” to show how the Islamic religion advocates peace. Through the example of the Prophet Mohamed who was recognised as gentle and humble toward his entourage, the imam presented Islam as a religion of forgiveness. As such, to be soft and to dominate one’s anger is a condition for entering paradise because God loves those who are patient.  Even toward those who turn their backs on Allah, it is essential for a Muslim to spread the message. The imam spoke to the audience about the image that the world has of Islam from the heterodox practices of certain Muslims.

Finally, Brother Jean François Bour presented a vision of practical theology and of pastoral issues related to pluralism in religious traditions. He argued for the importance of dialogue as a means to oppose violence. There is violence when there is absence of dialogue. He developed his remarks in two ways. He asked first why religions are accused of encouraging violence.  He then showed that religions are not the problem but are part of the solution, citing Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

The afternoon of this study day was devoted to exchanges with the doctoral students and those who obtained their masters in the past year. Each one explained the theme of his research and the different results obtained so far.

It should be noted that, in relation to the assembly, Wednesday 7 September was devoted to a meeting of the extraordinary vicariate council that includes the priors and superiors of the houses. On Thursday morning 8 September, the brothers held a plenary meeting where they discussed issues of concern that were at times very controversial in the vicariate; each time, however, a peaceful outcome was found. In the afternoon, the brothers had a working session with Brother Steve Ogbe, op, who is Promoter of Vocations and fundraiser for the Province of St. Joseph the Worker (Nigeria and Ghana). Brother Steve explained to the assembly the challenges that must be addressed to avoid the trap of chronic dependency. It is necessary to work with the brothers to develop a common approach; to go beyond criticism and other forms of resistances so that the brothers can ensure for the next generations a more secure future. The choice of an operational team and the sharing of assets were seen as essential for success.

The assembly of the VEA which takes place in the middle of the mandate of the Provincial Vicar, was held from 06 to 10 September 2016, at the Convent of Saint Dominic in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Thirty brothers of the vicariate participated, coming from Bangui, Brazzaville, Douala, Abidjan, Rome, Evry, Yaoundé. Other brothers were also invited: two brothers of the Province of France, Brother Thierry Hubert, op socius of the Provincial, who represented Brother Michel Lachenaud, and Brother Jean François Bour, op; Brother Steve Ogbe, op (Nigeria) ; and Brother Roberto Okón Pocó, op of Equatorial Guinea (Province of Spain).

Bro. Bovary Leop, op.

 

(24 October 2016)