“Africa trapped in its suffering justice,” Needs Justice “transformed by mercy”: Bishop

Bishop Nicodème Anani Barrigah-Benissan of Atakpamé diocese, Togo,delegate to the 4th Pan-African Congress on Divine Mercy in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso: November 21, 2019

A Bishop from the West African country of Togo has faulted the justice system institutionalized by many nations in Africa describing it as “suffering justice” and proposed a legal system that is oriented toward social cohesion, “transformed by mercy.”

“I would like to propose to Africa a justice of surpassing oneself, which can be transformed by mercy, but through stages which, in view of the situation on the continent, seem particularly important,” Bishop Nicodème Anani Barrigah-Benissan of Togo’s Atakpamé diocese told ACI Africa in an interview Wednesday, November 20 shortly after reflecting with delegates of the Pan-African Congress on Divine Mercy in Burkina Faso.

Having reflected with the Congress delegates on the theme “Africa trapped in its suffering justice,” Bishop Barrigah told ACI Africa that the legal system in Africa “must essentially be free justice, committed to the law, concerned with equity, oriented towards social cohesion and, naturally, transformed by mercy, as the Post-Synodal Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI ‘Africae Munus’ has clearly shown.”

In his considered opinion based on his experience as an African Church leader, justice can only truly permeate the lives of the people of God on the continent “if it is transformed by mercy, animated by the love of God that leads to surpassing oneself.”

The justice system in Africa should be focused on “social cohesion and social justice must be at the heart of our pastoral life,” the 56-year-old Togolese Prelate said.


He went on to invite Africans to accept each other in their diversity in order to achieve effective justice for all saying, “Africans today need to first of all accept their fellow brothers and sisters in their differences without demonizing or seeking at all costs to dominate him.”

He advocated for mutual respect of rights and freedoms among citizens of Africa that allows active participation in the affairs of the society regardless of ethnicity and other distinguishing factors.

“It is to observe a minimum of social justice by not taking over everything by fraudulent means; It means allowing every citizen to participate in social life without excluding those who are not of our ethnic group, religion or political party,” Bishop Barrigah said.

He added in reference to the meaning of a justice system that allows for mutual respect of rights and freedoms, “It also means organizing free, transparent and fair elections; it means agreeing to sit down to dialogue in all sincerity; it means putting politics at the service of the common good; it means reaching out to build together the conditions for a true democracy.”

“Our countries need a freedom that can ensure that their destiny is taken into their own hands: political, economic and military freedom,” Bishop Barrigah concluded.

More in Africa

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.