Catholics in Sierra Leone Asked to Confess Sins against the Environment

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone. Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles  of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone has challenged citizens of the West African nation to treat their abuse of the environment as an “ecological sin”, which must be confessed.

In his Sunday, March 17 homily during the Lenten Pilgrimage of his Metropolitan See, Archbishop Tamba Charles expressed concern that people are disrespecting their interconnectedness with the rest of God’s creation.

At the pilgrimage, the Archbishop of Freetown spoke about many sins that Sierra Leoneans must confess, including the sin of tribalism, and added, “The other sin that we need to confess today is the one against the environment. Let us call it ecological sin because it disrupts the interconnections among the things made by God.”

He explained, “As the Book of Genesis teaches us, God created a beautiful planet and entrusted it to us human beings in stewardship, to bring it to perfection in goodness, according to the intention of God, but, in the name of development, we have done so much harm to it that the negative consequences of our harm to nature are coming back to hurt us.”

“Here in Sierra Leone, many of us have still not been able to see the link between our faith in the God we profess as creator of heaven and earth and the world he created. As a result, you would often see someone coming from a place of worship, where he or she acknowledged God, in hymns and prayers, as his/her creator but drop plastic water sachets in drainages where they block the flow of water and so provide as breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes,” Archbishop Tamba Charles said.


He also condemned the habit of throwing domestic wastes, often containing plastic materials that last for thousands of years, into other people’s compounds at night or into drainages during the rains.

Such poor disposal of domestic waste is also damaging to the country’s marine ecosystem, the Catholic Archbishop said, adding that abuse to the environment shows disrespect to the creator.

“All of these things against the environment, and many others, do not only harm our health, but also do not show that we really believe in God as creator of heaven and earth, contrary to what we say in our profession of faith,” the Archbishop of Freetown since his Episcopal Consecration in May 2008 said.

“So, we should confess our sins against the environment because they are harming our common home,” Archbishop Tamba Charles emphasized. 

He continued, “As Pope Francis reminds us in his Encyclical Laudato Sì, on the Care for Our Common Home, there is a network of relationships between us and our environment; and so, whatever harm we do to nature returns to harm us, as we are seeing today, with the unusually very high temperatures in our country.”

More in Africa

Archbishop’s Tamba Charles’ sentiments about the “ecological sin” echo the message of Pope Francis, who has referred to environmental degradation and global warming as sin against creation.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.