The Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Bamenda was established in December 12, 2002, by His Grace, Fr. Paul VERDZEKOV. The Commission came into being after a unique exercise carried out by some Christians who served as Election Observers during the Twin Municipal and Parliamentary Elections that held on 30th June 2002. In a Message he addressed to the Christian Electoral Observers, the Archbishop said, “What you did last June gives me well-founded hopes that, with your involvement and commitment, our Archdiocese should soon be able to boast of vibrant and dynamic Justice and Peace Commissions at all levels as demanded by Pope John Paul II in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, 106-107.” These prophetic words produced the mustard seed that gave birth to the Commission which has grown in leaps and bounds over the years and has now become a household name. 12 members were appointed by the Archbishop to constitute the Commission.
The Commission is working at the grassroots, for both Catholics and non-Catholics, through its Deanery and Parochial Commissions which are made up of concerned Catholics who want to work actively to promote peace and social justice.
It is nevertheless part of a Universal Network of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace that was established in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, at the request of the Fathers of Vatican II. This request was further echoed by the Synod Fathers during the First Synod of African Bishops that held in Rome in 1994 on the theme: ‘The Church in Africa and its Evangelization Mission towards the year 2000’, which resulted to the promulgation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa.
In this document, Pope John Paul II made a clarion call to all Episcopal Conferences to establish where they do not yet exist, Justice and Peace Commissions at various levels. In 1995, the Bishops of Cameroon responded to this exhortation by creating a Sub-Commission for Justice and Peace, which today is the Justice and Peace Department of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon. At the level of the Sub-Region – Association of Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar (ACERAC), the Commission was created in 1999, and at Continental level, there is the Department of Justice, Peace and Development in the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).’