Vehemently anti-gay Archbishop Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaoundé, Cameroon, has resigned at a time when new Pope Francis is emphasizing the importance of accepting LGBT people in society.
The Vatican named Bishop Jean Mbarga of Ebolowa as his replacement, at least provisionally.
Public announcements and published discussions of Bakot’s resignation did not cite his anti-gay attacks as a reason for his departure, although his frequent campaigns against homosexuality were at odds with Pope Francis’s recent advocacy of toleration.
In a Jan. 28 interview, Bakot said, “We do not want” homosexuality in Africa. “The West has its culture and Africans have ours. Since we must respect the parallels between the two cultures, and since we are in dialogue with each other, let us propose polygamy to the West just as they propose homosexuality to us. Otherwise, let each of us remain set in their own culture.”
In February, he joined with other Roman Catholic bishops in issuing a statement that “homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it.”
In last year’s Christmas sermon, Bakot called same-sex marriage “a serious crime against humanity.” He said, “We need to stand up to combat it with all our energy. I am particularly thankful to our local media that has been spreading this message of it as a criminality against mankind,” according to Reuters.
Gay Star News reported at the time:
His comments seem designed to bolster support for the anti-gay rethoric recently whipped up by the Cameroonian media, mostly notably the tabloid L’Anecdote, which earlier this year alleged a ‘homosexual mafia’ was running the state.
The cleric is no stranger to homophobic statements.
Earlier this year  he stated that homosexuality is a ‘danger to the family unit’ and ‘an affront to the family, enemy of women and creation’.
In December 2005, he made similar claims, that homosexuality was a crime against the family and marriage. His statement generated a homophobic nationwide debate with several Cameroon papers alleging the existence of a homosexual ‘mafia’ outing by means of publishing a list of many prominent people, including government ministers, as evidence of this allegation.
Today in Cameroon, Cameroon Voice called the resignation an “eviction with dignity.” Reasons cited by that publication for Bakot’s departure included his reputation as a bad manager and the decision to take out mortgages against church property, which led to “a slew of suspicions about the morality of Archbishop Tonye Bakot.” Cameroon Voice also said that Bakot, 66, who previously served in coastal Douala and Edéa, was an outsider and is being replaced by someone born near Yaoundé in central Cameroon.
Jeune Afrique cited “financial and political scandals,” saying that the archdiocese in Yaoundé is 6 billion CFA francs in debt (US $12 million, 9 million euros).
- Archdiocese of Yaounde: Victor Tonye Bako quits (CameroonOnline.org)
- In Cameroon, anti-gay voices grow louder (76crimes.com)
- Beating death of LGBT activist Eric Lembembe in Cameroon (76crimes.com)
- Victor Tonye Bakot, l’archevêque de Yaoundé, a démissionné (Jeune Afrique)