YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – In Cameroon, Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bamenda has cautioned Christians about the alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at a parishioner’s home in his archdiocese.

On June 6, thousands of Christians and non-Christians flocked to the home of Dorothy Enow Manyor in Ngomgham Parish following the alleged apparition at her home.

Manyor is a member of the All Angels Small Christian Community in the parish.

Nkea in a June 8 statement underscored the need for thorough discernment and due process by ecclesial authorities in order to ascertain the veracity of the alleged apparition.

“No one can or is allowed to pronounce with certainty at this time, that the Blessed Virgin Mary is appearing in the said house in Ngomgham,” the archbishop said.

He said that “whatever is happening in Ngomgham, needs thorough discernment and due process by the competent Ecclesiastical Authorities, as stipulated in the Norms from the Holy See of May 17, 2024, to be sure of this phenomenon.”

The new norms give the Vatican a greater say in determining Marian apparitions and other religious phenomena.

Previous protocols gave local bishops greater autonomy in discerning such cases, and while the May 17 directives still emphasize that “discernment in this area remains the task of the diocesan bishop,” the new rules say the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith “must always be consulted and give final approval to what the bishop decides before he announces a determination on an event of alleged supernatural origin.”

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Nkea said that until this is done and established by the Church, “this private house [Manyor’s home] cannot be considered as a public place of prayer, and all Catholic Christians are therefore encouraged to frequent their parish churches and Diocesan/Parish Shrines for public prayer and veneration of the saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

the Director of Communication at the National Episcopal Conference, Father Humphrey Tatah Mbuy said there are three things the Church considers when determining the veracity of a Marian apparition.

“First, the Church must see evidence that it was not meant to be a secret or private apparition, it was meant to be a public apparition. Secondly, the Church gets a group of people to study the case in point and find out the facts about what the claims are. And thirdly, even if it is a real apparition, they want to be sure that the miracle of whatever is happening is not something that has been set up. So the Church takes its time,” he told Crux.

“That is why what is going on in Ngomgham-the archbishop had to write a letter to tell people to stop going there until the investigation is complete,” Mbuy said.

Nkea, who also serves as the President of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, appealed to the public to allow Manyor and her family to have their privacy.

“This family where this phenomenon is taking place has a right to their privacy and quiet family life. Therefore, people should kindly respect their rights and allow them the peace they deserve,” the archbishop said.

He promised to set up a commission of theologians to study the phenomenon.

It is not the first time Cameroon is experiencing a Marian apparition, real or imagined.

In 1996, a 7-year-old mute girl in Nsimalen, a locality in the outskirts of Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé “shouted Mary three times,” according to Father Antoine Roger Evouna.

The place of the apparition is now called the Marian Sanctuary and “bears the myth of miracles and healings with pilgrims trooping in their numbers to seek the Virgin Mary’s intercession.”

Two years ago, and amid escalating violence in Cameroon’s two English speaking regions – where Bamenda is located – Nkea consecrated the territory to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Nkea said at the time that because all the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province were present at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Abango, “we have decided that we shall consecrate the entire Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace.”

“We shall appeal for her maternal intercession, so that we can know peace once again in our Church province, which corresponds to the territorial circumscription of the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. This is not our choice. It is not even our decision. It is God Himself who has decided to make it this way,” the archbishop said.

In his June 8 communiqué, Nkea recalled that the Marian Year celebrated two years ago enabled Christians to have “an in-depth study of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role in the economy of salvation.

“The year ended with a Marian Congress and many Christians have the Acta of this congress. We were encouraged to pray the Rosary and to remain close to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is Comforter of the Afflicted, Help of Christians, Mother of the Church, and Queen of Peace,” he said.

The archbishop encouraged the faithful to persist in prayer as the archdiocese begins the process of discerning the alleged apparition at Dorothy’s home.