Saturday, February 15, 2020

Etoudi: Paul and Chantal Biya in mourning

Jean-Baptiste Amié, former Spiritan who became a priest of the diocese of Yaoundé under the impulse of Mgr Jean Zoa (archbishop of Yaoundé from 1961 to 1998) died on February 12, 2020 from illness. He was episcopal vicar, secretary general of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (Cenc) before being created chaplain of his Holiness. It was also he who had celebrated, in the greatest discretion, the marriage of the presidential spouses Paul and Chantal Biya.

Mgr Jean-Baptiste Amié is no more. With Fathers Engelbert Mveng, Jean Marc Ela, or Prosper Abega, he was one of the heralds of liberation theology. He was the founder of the Cameroonian section of the Ecumenical Association of African Theologians (abbreviated as AOTA). 

From the Congregation of the Holy Spirit to the Diocese of Yaoundé 

It was in the 1940s that the young Jean-Baptiste Amié heard the call of God and decided after his primary studies at the Catholic school of Saint-Joseph de Mvolyé to enter the minor seminary of Akono, at the time run by the fathers of the Spiritan Congregation. Encouraged by Mgr François-Xavier Vogt, then apostolic vicar of Yaoundé, he entered the novitiate of the Spiritans in France and after his philosophical and theological studies, he was ordained a priest and thus became, with the fathers Athanase Bala (who would become the second bishop of Nadia) and Ferdinand Azegue, the very first Cameroonian Spiritan fathers. 

In cold with Mgr René Graffin, successor of Mgr François-Xavier Vogt at the seat of the apostolic vicariate of Yaoundé, and first archbishop of the independent capital of Cameroon in 1960, whose pastoral methods he criticized, calling them “colonialists?”, Father Jean-Baptiste Amié left the Spiritans after the enthronement of Mgr Jean Zoa as archbishop, and joined the diocese of Yaoundé. 

He finds his fellow travelers from the minor seminary Saint-Joseph of Akono that are Engelbert Mveng become priest of the Society of Jesus, Jean Marc Ela, Prosper Abega, François-Xavier Amara, all "? Native priests?" with whom he will initiate the theological work of the inculturation of the Gospel message.

Mgr Jean Zoa will make Father Amié one of the key men of his diocese by entrusting him, in the 1970s and 1980s, with the functions of episcopal vicar in charge of several pastoral areas. The archbishop will also integrate him into the commission for translating the Roman missal into the Ewondo language, the language used by the Cameroonian Catholic Church for the evangelization of the Center and the south of the country. 

Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (Cenc) 

At the end of the 1970s, on the proposal of Mgr Jean Zoa, he was appointed secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon. He will remain in this position for two four-year terms. 

Thus he attended, in March 1985, a meeting between African theologians who called for the inculturation of the Gospel message and the African Council, and Vatican emissaries sent by Pope John Paul II. The meeting is held at the Catholic Institute of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the sponsorship of Cardinal Malula, former archbishop of Kinshasa, and his assistant at the time, Mgr Tharcius Tshibangou. 

While the African synod was held in Rome in 1994, Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Amié supported the parallel synod organized by African theologians still in Rome, "to avoid the spirit of will or even the inculturation of the message evangelical in the Church of Africa not be distorted? ”he confided to one of the parishioners of Christ the King of Tsinga.

Marriage of Paul and Chantal Biya 

In the mid-1990s, while he was still parish priest of Christ-Roi de Tsinga, Mgr Jean-Baptiste Amié blessed the marriage, in second marriage, of the Cameroonian head of state Paul Biya - who was his friend at the Saint-Joseph d'Akono minor seminary - with Chantal Vigouroux. 

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made him chaplain of his Holiness [which confers on him the title of Monsignor]. 

Sick in recent years, Mgr Jean-Baptiste Amié lived with his family. He was hospitalized a few weeks before he passed away on February 12.