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Peace, “responsibility of every citizen of every social condition”: Bishops in Ivory Coast

Logo of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI). Credit: CECCI

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI) have, in a collective statement, underscored the role of citizens in sustaining peace.

In a statement issued on the occasion of the 23rd National Day of Peace marked Monday, November 15, CECCI members say it is necessary for every individual to have peace within themselves and to find ways of staying in harmony with each other.

“In the current social and political context of our country, this National Day of Peace must be celebrated with each one of us in mind that peace is a necessity and its consolidation is the responsibility of every citizen of every social condition,” Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast say in their message titled, “Peace be with you.”

“There is a need for peace in each of us,” they further say, adding that having personal tranquility “obliges us to avoid, above all, getting used to the evil of war.”

The Catholic Bishops add, “God will call to account anyone who has not sought peace or has stirred up tensions and conflicts.” 

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“Let us not be afraid, in our country, to reach out to others, to discuss with respect and tolerance its future,” the Church leaders say in their message signed by the President of the Episcopal Commission for Justice, Peace and Environment of CECCI, Bishop Bruno Yedoh.

Ivory Coast has been celebrating the National Day of Peace each year on November 15 Since 1996.

In their November 15 message, CECCI members welcome what they refer to as favorable conditions created by the Head of State, Allasane Ouattara, for the return to the country of the former President, Laurent Gbagbo.

They note that “these acts contribute to the construction of peace and to the consolidation of achievements in this field.”

Making reference to Christ’s words in the Beatitudes, the Catholic Bishops in the West African nation urge Ivoirians to be peacemakers “for they will be called sons of God.”

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“We will be peacemakers only to the extent that we strive to live in harmony with others and to build our homeland together, as sons and daughters of the same father,” they say, and add, “This will only be possible if we commit ourselves to the commandment of love, which demands that we respect and ensure respect for every human being.” 

The Catholic Bishops note that “the respect of the human being passes, among other things, by the fight against the aggressions with the machete, by the justice given to the prisoners of long dates, detained without judgment.”

Regarding the machete attacks commonly known as ‘Microbes’, which are perpetrated by children, the members of CECCI congratulate and encourage the authorities “for what has already been done to curb the phenomenon.”

They also encourage parents to fully play their role in the reintegration of their children in society, adding, “This will also contribute to the preservation of peace in our neighborhoods.”  

The Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast maintain that through prayer, people can achieve long lasting harmony with God and with those they interact with.

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“Prayer opens the heart not only to a deep relationship with God, but also to an encounter with one's neighbor under the sign of respect, trust, understanding, esteem and love,” they say, and add, “Prayer inspires courage and gives support to all ‘true friends of peace’ who seek to promote it in the various circumstances in which they live.”

CECCI members implore, “May each of us, supported by the prayers of all, commit ourselves to act so that the rediscovered fraternity opens new paths of hope for our country Ivory Coast.”

This story was first published by ACI Africa on 17 November 2021