Bishop Emmanuel Bushu Calls Out Bishop Michael Bibi for Restoring Child Rapist to Ministry
by: Matthew David
Following in the footsteps of St. Paul, Bishop Emeritus Emmanuel Bushu is calling out his successor for restoring a child abuser to ministry while violating Canon Law in an on the record interview about the responsibilities of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Emeritus Emanuel Bushu of Cameroon was asked to retire by Pope Francis upon his 75th birthday, on December 28th of 2019. At the same time, Pope Francis selected the young Auxillary Bishop Michael Bibi of Bamenda (age 48 at the time) to replace Bp. Bushu as apostolic administrator of the Buea diocese.
Within months of being appointed apostolic administrator, Bishop Bibi restored an admitted child rapist priest to ministry, yet cancelled 88 innocent priests, deacons and seminarians.
Bishop Bibi’s decrees impoverished these ordained men (and blocked the ordination of the seminarians), cutting their pay to zero, eliminating their health coverage, even going so far as telling the faithful to have nothing to do with them while he investigated the procedural validity of their “lay associations”.
On February 16th, 2022, he issued a decree banishing them from his diocese with only six days to leave.
Citing concerns that the Catholic University Institute of Buea (CUIB) was operating independent from the diocese, Bishop Bibi removed the entire board of the CUIB contrary to their corporate statutes, worked with a bank manager who was his friend to take control of the bank accounts against the wishes of the signers, and withheld money from orphans, according to ongoing litigation in civil court and direct correspondence.
With each of these actions, Bishop Bibi has publicly cited Canon Law as a basis for them.
On April 15th, Bishop Emeritus Emmanuel Bushu provided an interview with this journalist detailing the responsibilities of a Catholic Bishop under Canon Law, speaking specifically to these kinds of topics that are afflicting the people of the Buea diocese.
The interview begins now.
Matthew David: What are the responsibilities of a Catholic Bishop?
Bishop Bushu: Well, you are a father of the community. You take care of the people entrusted to you, which means that just every aspect of the life of the Community is referred to you and you have to look after them. We take care of them.
MD: When you’re made a Bishop, is there a set of laws that you must follow when you do your good works?
BB: Yes, I mean, in the Canon Law there you will notice there’s a whole section on the administration carried out by the bishops. All those ones, you have to know them, where they apply, when you are on a case as a Bishop.
MD: So in in terms of administration such as the organization of monies, is that generally dictated by Canon law?
BB: Yes, and there are whole sections which state precisely that a bishop has to look after. And then that’s why we have to set up the Finance Council of the diocese to look after the administration and to closely follow the accounting. Every month you get a report, but generally you might be getting a meeting with the senior staff of the finance every week, it all depends on how you arrange your own thing. You have the time you could do that, but if you don’t have the time, you regulate it accordingly and see how effective that would be, how to run the finances in a proper way.
MD: There is a passage of scripture where Jesus teaches all of the apostles that the Gentiles use their authority in a very heavy-handed way, but He says that with them it shall not be so (Matt. 20:25-26). Is this principle generally in Canon law as well?
BB: Yes, Canon Law is clear and those aspects. You are the servants. You are there to serve. And sometimes, Things don’t just go that way at all, and you wonder why they are like that, but in some cases then the high authority of the church steps in to regulate those things. That is where they would hear the sides that have conflict and then then there is a decision made usually by the Holy See if the local, episcopal conference, national and provincial cannot solve the problem – Then, of course, the Holy See steps in.
MD: And so, for example, when Jesus says, to not let your force be felt or your force be known in terms of how you use it, does the church place an emphasis on fraternal correction in terms of matters of crime within its penal code?
BB: Yes, it does. it does. Yes, in some cases, individuals who are caught in these matters, sometimes they don’t seem to understand, but there is always that you, do fraternal correction first. If it’s above, you. then you go to the next step. Then you get more qualified people who know details of things that are happening, and then they could solve. It’s always like that. They always follow that procedure.
MD: OK. And so for example you have the child sexual abuse crisis, there’s also the crisis involving seminarians. Does the requirement of fraternal correction also apply in those cases? What is fraternal correction?
BB: Fraternal correction is: You see faults, something has happened, and you approach the person concerned and bring that to his notice. We discuss that with him and give advice, you [are] suggesting [what] could be done. But sometimes the cases are blatantly – and I mean so clear that It’s too late to be talking about mercy. Because, since Pope Francis came, there is a no tolerance level of handling these matters now, so once it is that way, there’s nothing you can really do.
MD: So, what does no tolerance mean?
BB: That means if the person has committed the fault, which he is accused of.. just simply leave him to whatever the law says there. You let the person go.
MD: What are the factors that determine whether a very serious offense can be treated with mercy or treated with justice?
BB: I think it depends on how the case is presented. You see that there was bad intention, [rather than] good intention, then that becomes a very serious matter. If it is a mistake that was made, inadvertent sometimes, then you just work on the thing itself as it is presented and see what to do about showing mercy, showing mercy to those people or the person.
MD: If a very serious crime is committed, how would you determine the intention of the offender?
BB: You talk with the person, or the persons concerned. You talk with them and you hear about the circumstances that led to the offense. You decide. I mean, you should know what to do in those circumstances. You are living there. You are interacting with people. You see how things go in that type of thing happens. These are the things we do. Normally. We try to look at it like that.
MD: In a case of child abuse, if the priest presents that he had good intentions at the time, would that mitigate the punishment?
BB: Yes, If we, really do see that. Sometimes it was inadvertent. You could lessen the sanction, lessen that. But of course, when you are doing that, you must see the latest of the magisterium – what they are saying about it. Because sometimes it might be having mercy, but the law does not admit that mercy anymore. That’s why I was saying that sometimes mercy might come in when it’s a bit late, and there is nothing you can really do. So when it is like that, you just follow what the church is saying because you cannot be doing your own thing outside what the magisterium is teaching about a particular problem.
MD: So if a psychological report came back saying that it was partially inadvertent, it would lessen the offense.
BB: Yes, it will lessen. Then sometimes they would need to give a lesser sanction then what would have done if you just simply took the thing at face value, then just sanction somebody because the crime was committed.
MD: What are some examples of sanctions that can be given?
BB: It depends on the on the offense considered, it depends on the particular offense, so you can suspend like in the case of the priest here. That was the only one I’ve had since I took office as a Bishop, who had this or offense against a minor. What I did was to put him on administrative leave. So it was that it was a very bad situation. It just came in and I thought that just to sanction as the law tells us would not be good. So I just gave him some time. But anyway, unfortunately for him, I had to retire. So I was thinking therefore that I will give it and follow it very closely and then see what becomes of it after some time. Might be some months anyway, some months. Then I would make a final decision.
MD: Did the next Bishop (Michael Bibi) take over that case?
BB: He did, he did, and he exonerated the priest, so he, let him get back to office, celebrating masses and the sacraments and so on. Which he was stopped from [doing since] the time that the letter of administrative leave reached him.
MD: In this case, was this cleric found guilty?
BB: The priest himself admitted everything, he didn’t say anything to the contrary, he admitted every bit of thing that he was asked.
MD: He is back in ministry?
BB: He is back in ministry now.
MD: Is this consistent with Canon law?
BB: No as it is according to the mind of the church now, it is not. It’s laicization straight away.
You can listen to the full interview here:
Read the additional reporting on this story by Church Militant here.
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