Cardinal Christian Tumi, Cameroon’s first Cardinal, died on April 2 at the age of 90. In November of this year, Tumi was kidnapped by a separatist militia, which attempted to goad the Cardinal into supporting their cause on public television. Tumi responded to his captors with the heart of a pastor, emphasizing that he preaches the truth, not ideology, and will call out wrongdoing wherever he finds it. Tumi, who was not harmed, was eventually freed.
Cameroon will remember Tumi as a steadfast and zealous bishop who promoted peace and reconciliation during the country’s violent “Anglophone Crisis,” which continues to engulf the nation. Tumi never aligned himself with a particular faction in the civil war, but constantly sought dialogue between the government and the separatists. He gave witness to his people that violence has no place in the pursuit of justice. In a message to the Catholic faithful of Cameroon, Pope Francis noted that Tumi left an “unforgettable mark” on the Church and the country. Tumi’s life of service and sacrifice can and should inspire anyone facing conflict. Catholics must be conscious of the dangers associated with aligning oneself with political or ideological factions. Rather, Catholics must defend the truth at all times, especially in the face of evil. Only in the truth can justice and peace adequately flourish. This was Tumi’s hope for Cameroon, and for the world.