, 15 November, 2020 / 9:00 PM
Catholic Bishops in Ghana have, in a collective statement at the end of their Annual Plenary Assembly, outlined seven issues affecting the West African nation, which they want addressed in view of achieving national transformation.
In the 8-page statement shared with ACI Africa, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) highlight the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent political disturbances in the Volta Region, the 2020 general elections, the integrity of the environment, the need for inclusive economy and development, education and human dignity as issues of concern that need to be addressed.
In the statement, GCBC members “wish to acknowledge most profoundly donations and contributions made by individuals, Church societies, local and international organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic to support the Church to respond to hardships imposed by the pandemic.”
They appeal to all Ghanaians, especially at funerals, other social gatherings and in this era of political campaigns, “to faithfully observe the COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, wearing of face masks, regular handwashing under running water with soap, using hand sanitizer and staying at home.”.
The Catholic Bishops in Ghana express their concerns about the “recent political disturbances in the Volta Region,” and appeal to those who are perpetrating these acts of vandalism and destruction of property “to refrain from them.”
“We also call on all, especially politicians, who go out of their way to refer to some Ghanaians as 'foreigners' to desist from those unguarded comments,” GCBC members say in their collective statement issued November 13, adding that “all divisive comments must cease if we intend to make any progress in our attempt to resolve the current threat being posed by the secessionists.”
They urge relevant Government authorities in Ghana “to do all within its means to find a lasting solution to this emerging problem. We also hope that all state institutions involved in investigations will accelerate the pace so as to bring to book anybody found guilty after a fair trial.”
“Let us work towards a united and stable Ghana,” the Catholic Bishops in Ghana add.
Regarding the 2020 general elections scheduled for December 7, GCBC members address themselves to various stakeholders, advocating for peace in Ghana before, during, and after the elections.
They commend members of the electoral commission for all the measures they have put in place “to ensure peaceful, free, fair, transparent, and credible elections.”
“We call on Ghanaians to repose trust and confidence in the work of the Electoral Commission throughout the period of elections and thereafter,” the Bishops say in their collective issued at the end of their meeting held under the theme “The Word of God: Christian Formation for Transformation in Ghana.”
They call on politicians “to avoid the temptation of making promises that they know they cannot fulfill, because this amounts to deceiving the people of Ghana.
“We urge them to avoid hate-filled statements and expressions that elicit revenge and vendetta,” the Bishops say making reference to the Ghanaian politicians and add, “We also call on party leaders, parliamentary and presidential candidates to conduct themselves honorably and to respect their opponents, both in their utterances and actions.”
The Bishops remind the electorate that “participation in the political life, in the light of fundamental moral principles, is an essential duty of every Christian and of all people of goodwill.”
GCBC members go on to “encourage all registered voters to be vigilant as they exercise their franchise. To decide not to vote is to neglect your duty and run the risk of leaving others to decide your future for you.”
“In the name of peace, parents and guardians are reminded that they have a God-given responsibility to discourage their under-age children and wards from voting,” the Church leaders say in their collective message.
They also call on security agents, the media, traditional and religious leaders to work toward peaceful elections in Ghana.
In the statement signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh, the Bishops express their concerns about the integrity of the environment.
“We continue to inflict harm of various kinds and degrees on our natural environment by our irresponsible use of it. We plunder our environment recklessly through indiscriminate dumping of refuse and industrial waste, 'galamsey' activities, logging, deforestation, water pollution and other forms of ecological degradation,” GCBC members say.
They remind Ghanaians that “our natural resources belong to those gone before us, those of us living and those who will come after us.”
“We must therefore refrain from selfish exploitation of our natural resources to the extent that generations after us will be deprived of their fair share of these resources,” they say.
The members of GCBC are also concerned about the outlook of “our national economy beyond COVID-19 as the real impact of the global pandemic remains largely unmeasured and undetermined.”
They call on “political leaders and development partners to collaborate to support countries with fragile economies such as ours to benefit from economic reliefs that will help in their economic recovery from the COVID19 economic downturn.”
Regarding education, the Bishops “vehemently” condemn “all acts of occultism and homosexuality in some of our educational institutions, promoted or sponsored by people in and outside the schools to the detriment of human dignity and the standard of education in Ghana.”
They also express their condemnation for examination malpractices “such as selling and buying of question papers and the trading of grades in cash or kind,” stressing the unique critical role “Mission schools have been playing to assist Government to offer quality education delivery in Ghana.”
The Bishops note that “the Church teaches that true education is directed towards the formation of the human person in view of his final end and the good of that society to which he belongs and in the duties to which he will, as an adult, have a share.”
The members of GCBC also express their concerns about human dignity outlining “the many evils that have taken over our dear nation such as the rampant armed robbery cases, stealing, murders, careless and reckless driving on our roads.”
“We also call for more presence of the Police on our roads and for closer collaboration between our security agencies and local community institutions and authorities to strengthen the mechanisms that will ensure the safety of life and property in our country,” they say in their November 13 collective statement.
The Catholic Bishops assure all Ghanaians of “our prayers for a peaceful and successful elections in December.”
“We wish to appeal to all to avoid the tendency of doing anything that will disturb the peace we currently enjoy as a people,” GCBC members say.
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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
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