, 30 November, 2020 / 5:15 PM
Ahead of Ghana’s general elections scheduled for December 7, Catholic Bishops in the West African nation have, in their Advent message, appealed to Ghanaians to maintain peace during the electioneering period.
“We wish to appeal once again to all our fellow-citizens to desire and actively work for peace before, during and after the December 7, 2020 elections,” members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC) say in their Advent Pastoral Letter issued Sunday, November 29 and shared with ACI Africa.
In the Pastoral Letter, GCBC members remind all Ghanaians that “elections are not war; elections are not about violence, but an important democratic exercise in which all registered voters in Ghana exercise their right to vote to determine the direction for the development of our nation.”
“We pray that just as we have done on seven different occasions in the past, we will also hold this year’s elections so creditably that we can celebrate our growing democracy and the coming of the Savior’s birth at Christmas in peace, harmony and joy,” they implore in the three-page Pastoral Letter whose theme is inspired by the upcoming polls and the Advent season.
While they express confidence in the country’s Electoral Commission to conduct “free, fair and transparent elections” in their message circulated under the theme, “Welcoming Christ, Living in Peace with All,” GCBC members urge the electoral body officials “not to become complacent in carrying out this constitutional duty”
“We also appeal to all political parties, their leaders and supporters and indeed all Ghanaian citizens to live in peace and refrain from all activities that can disturb the peace of our dear nation before, during and after the elections,” they underscore in their collective letter signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh.
Looking toward the post-election period, the GCBC members urge Ghanaians to “work together to build one country.”
“We should not expect everything from those who govern us, but must welcome our common responsibilities in working together as one people to develop our beloved country,” the Catholic Bishops in Ghana say.
In the Pastoral Letter, the Bishops lament that since the resumption of public liturgical celebrations after the COVID-19 lockdown, some of the faithful have not been attending Holy Mass, or prefer to follow the celebration on television and other digital platforms.
Citing The Church and Internet 9, the 2002 document by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, GCBC members explain the need for in-person participation in liturgical celebrations since “there are no sacraments on the Internet.”
“Virtual reality is no substitute for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist… There are no sacraments on the Internet; and even the religious experiences possible there by the grace of God are insufficient apart from real life-world interaction with other persons of faith” the Bishops cite the February 2002 document.
With Sunday being the day of the Lord’s resurrection, all Catholics “have an obligation to attend Mass on Sunday,” the Bishops in Ghana direct and add, “Due to the significance of the day, watching or hearing Mass through the digital network cannot dispense anyone from the obligation to be part of the Eucharistic assembly.”
“Active participation and sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ are the surest means for the Church to bond together as members of the same family, Church-Family of God,” GCBC members emphasize, making reference to paragraph 63 of Pope St. John Paul II’s post Synodal Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa.
With November 29 marking the beginning of a new liturgical year, the Prelates “entreat all Catholics who are not bound by age or sickness to make the effort to participate physically in Sunday Holy Masses while ensuring that all the COVID-19 protocols are faithfully observed.”
As the end of 2020 nears, GCBC members reiterate their call for all Christians to “take up the Word of God, read it, meditate on it and apply it to their everyday living.”
“We wish you all a fruitful preparation for Christmas during this Advent Season, a happy celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a prosperous and peace-filled New Year,” they conclude their collective November 29 Pastoral Letter.
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Father Don Bosco Onyalla
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