, 15 September, 2020 / 10:08 PM
Members of the Association of Catholic Lay Executives of Ivory Coast (ACC-CI) have, in a collective statement, expressed their solidarity with Jean-Pierre Cardinal Kutwa who has come under attack from a section of Catholic politicians of the ruling party.
The criticisms against Cardinal Kutwa were triggered by his views about the upcoming general election. On August 31, the Cardinal termed President Alassane Ouattara’s bid for a third term as “not necessary” and called for reconciliation, respect for the rule of law and dialogue as the country gears for the Presidential Elections scheduled for October 31.
In a statement read out to members of the press at St. James Parish of Abidjan Archdiocese in the economic capital of Ivory Coast, ACC-CI members express their “support” for the Cardinal as well as the collective body of Catholic Bishops in the West African nation.
“The Association of Catholic Lay Executives of the Ivory Coast, addresses a motion of support to the Cardinal and fully endorses all declarations, messages and pastoral letters of the Catholic Bishops of Ivory Coast, taken individually as well as those taken in the name of their Conference,” ACC-CI members say in their Monday, September 14 collective statement.
In the statement read out by ACC-CI President, Loba Martin, they further say, “We, Catholic Lay Executives of Ivory Coast, are in line with the Cardinal when he says: In truth, reconciliation is more important than elections... Let us be reconciled with each other!”
Expressing his concerns about the candidacy of President Ouattara in the October elections, Cardinal Kutwa had said, “As the presidential elections approach, we have observed with dismay the deepening conflict of ideas on both sides. These conflicting ideas have become all the more accentuated since the declaration of the candidacy of the President of the Republic on 6 August 2020.”
The Cardinal had gone on to urge politicians and their followers to seek the path of dialogue saying, “I solemnly appeal to individual and collective conscience to put an end to violence and to make room for dialogue. I would like to invite everyone to go to dialogue and consultation, in the search for solutions to this crisis, which does not augur a better tomorrow in terms of the peaceful organization of elections.”
On September 2, five Ministers and Secretaries of State organized a press conference at St. Paul's Cathedral in Abidjan during which they criticized Cardinal Kutwa.
“We learnt of a statement by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa who decided to speak in a personal capacity on the evolution of the socio-political situation. His Eminence's speech does not go in the direction of appeasing the socio-political climate,” Minister Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani said during the September 2 press briefing.
In their September 14 statement obtained by ACI Africa, the members of ACC-CI say they “find it difficult to understand the approach of understanding of the ministers and all their remarks, especially when their leader Mr. Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani stresses that it is not fair to say that reconciliation is more important than elections.”
“In the face of the challenges facing our beautiful country in the run-up to the presidential elections of October 2020, His Eminence Jean-Pierre Cardinal Kutwa, as a good father, a benevolent Pastor and shepherd, and after a moment of observation, reflection and prayers, reminds everyone of the urgency of personal and collective introspection,” the Catholic Lay Executives further say.
Referencing the Dogmatic Constitution of Church, Lumen Gentium, they add, “A society constituted and organized in this world must be concerned about the sufferings of humanity and precisely of the peoples who compose it. It is for this reason that it will truly pose itself as "the universal sacrament of salvation.”
“It is therefore on the strength of this missionary vocation that the Catholic Church of Ivory Coast, through the Declarations, Pastoral Letters and Addresses of the Conference of its Bishops and Clergy, has always challenged national and international political actors at crucial moments in the life of our country, in order to avoid any drift that could have harmful and unpredictable consequences,” ACC-CI members add in their collective statement.
They invite the ministers, who they describe as "the sons of the Cardinal” to “return to the House of their Father, where forgiveness and mercy await them just like the prodigal son.”
They “solemnly appeal to Catholic Christians and Ivorians of all political and religious leanings to cultivate the values of peace, tolerance, humility, freedom of expression, acceptance and love of neighbor, in order to maintain our country, the Ivory Coast, whose harmony and concord constitute existential goods for all.”
“May God bless our Brothers and Sisters in Christ and in humanity; may He transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh; may He heal us from our pride, so that His True and Lasting Peace may reign in Ivory Coast,” ACC-CI members implore in their collective statement.
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