, 19 June, 2020 / 9:40 PM
With less than 200 people yet to recover from COVID-19 in the West African nation of Togo, Catholic Bishops have, at the end of their four-day meeting this week, expressed gratitude to the people of God in the country for acting responsibly, called for solidarity with the vulnerable in society, and cautioned against complacency.
From the 555 reported cases of COVID-19 in Togo, 13 people have lost their lives and 361 have recovered from the disease.
In their collective statement issued Friday, June 19, members of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET) express gratitude to priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful “for their responsible management of this crisis despite the temporary closure of places of worship.”
The Bishops attribute the progress so far to God and invite “everyone to continue to pray that God will deliver us from this scourge” and encourage “gestures of solidarity especially towards the most affected in society.”
They caution against complacency, encouraging “the faithful and all citizens to strictly observe the recommended preventive measures, while advocating for the gradual reopening of places of worship in strict compliance with the preventive provisions.”
The Bishops who held their second Ordinary Plenary Assembly for the year 2019-2020 at the Secretariat of their conference in Lomé encouraged the Government and the health authorities to continue their efforts to bring the pandemic under control as soon as possible.
During their four-day meeting, the Catholic Church leaders deliberated about the February general elections and the situation of security in the West African nation.
Characterized with irregularities, the February 22 general elections “plunged Togo into a predictable movement of disputes as soon as the results were announced,” the Bishops recall.
“Without a serious reform of the electoral framework for free, transparent, credible and peaceful elections, democracy cannot really flourish in Togo,” the members of CET caution and add, “As long as socio-political life is dominated by the army, as long as the legislative and judicial branches are not truly independent, as long as corruption and impunity continue to flourish in the land of our forefathers, tensions will not really end.”
They express their concerns about insecurity in the country and make particular reference to “the assassinations of the past few months,” which they say “sound the alarm about the seriousness of the situation. No social category seems to be spared.”
Following the disputed presidential election that saw the re-election of the incumbent, President Faure Gnassingbe, Togo has been experiencing insecurity resulting in loss of lives.
Early May, the commander of the 1st Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), Colonel Bitala Madjoulba was found dead in his office. The local media has reported deaths, some blamed on government security agencies.
The Bishops condemn “this cynical and opaque way of proceeding by playing with what is most sacred to man: life” and call for an immediate end to these crimes.
They ask that the “investigations being carried out be brought to a successful conclusion and that the perpetrators and those who commissioned them be arrested, tried and punished in accordance with the laws in force.”
“Such crimes gravely offend the Creator and Master of all life,” the Church leaders bemoan and express their closeness and compassion to the victims of all forms of violence and injustice in the West African nation.
Invoking God’s intervention for lasting peace in Togo, the Bishop invite the faithful “to pray for priests, so that, following the example of the Good Shepherd, they may give themselves entirely to the service of the people of God.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa