Cardinal von Galen Award – Summer 2008: Christian Cardinal Tumi

Christian Cardinal Tumi, the archbishop of Douala, Cameroon, is a man whose name is synonymous with courage. He has stood for life and to preserve respect for the truth and Church teaching in season and out of season. It is a singular blessing that HLI’s Francophone Africa apostolate, under the leadership of George Wirnkar, is based in his archdiocese. Cardinal Tumi’s enthusiastic letters of support for HLI to his brother bishops have been of precious assistance to the rapid growth of our pro-life outreach in Africa in the past five years.

Cardinal Tumi was first ordained a bishop in 1979 for the diocese of Yagoua. Made archbishop of Garoua in1984 and later the archbishop of the country’s largest city, Douala, in 1991. Cardinal Tumi makes weekly pastoral visits throughout his archdiocese to teach and preach, and one of his frequent themes is the Gospel of Life and defending innocent human life. At personal cost, he has fought for the underprivileged and defenseless. His voice is respected throughout Cameroon and is especially needed when denouncing corruption in high places.

Pope John Paul II gave him a singular honor by making him the first cardinal in Cameroon’s history. Cardinal Tumi’s intellectual strength is clearly evident from the seven languages he speaks, and his having earned his doctorate in Philosophy from Catholic University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He served as pioneer rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Bambui, Cameroon before being called to the episcopate. This seminary remains one of the country’s most respected houses of priestly formation and shines no less in the solid orthodox teaching its seminarians receive.

We are most appreciative that Cardinal Tumi wrote the introduction to our French-language book “Le Préservatif en Procès” (The Case against Condoms). There he reminded readers that “the battle against AIDS will never be won until we have understood the underlying reasons why the condom has not stopped the spread of this illness. Only true love, the Truth and a proper understanding of the meaning of human sexuality will enable us to defeat this scourge that is destroying our families and societies.” This HLI book is currently being distributed in seminaries and to priests and bishops across Francophone Africa.

Cardinal Tumi was chosen as president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) because his stature embraces the whole continent. Pope John Paul II appointed him president of the synods of bishops on priestly formation in 1990 and on Africa in 1994. He has provided inspired leadership throughout Africa and in his travels to Europe and America where he is often called to speak.

HLI and all those engaged in the struggle to preserve Africa from the culture of death owe a debt of gratitude to Christian Cardinal Tumi. It is wonderful to have this opportunity to bestow the Cardinal Von Galen Award on such a worthy recipient.

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HLI staff writers bring you stories from the mission field and the latest information on life and family issues. All HLI articles are true to Catholic teaching.

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