Catholic Bishops in West Africa “denounce policies” Allowing Exploitation, Marginalization

Members of RECOWA present their final communiqué to journalists in Abuja on 7 May 2022. Credit: ACI Africa

Catholic Bishops in West Africa have, in the final communiqué of their fourth RECOWA Plenary Assembly, denounced “policies and practices” that give room to exploitation of populations and marginalization of persons.

In the Saturday, May 7 communiqué shared with ACI Africa, members of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) call on “politicians, other leaders and indeed our people to order in their never-ending craving for self-aggrandizement and acquisition of wealth.”

“We strongly denounce the policies and practices of our governments and leaders who facilitate and permit the exploitation and marginalization of our people and endanger the future of our children,” RECOWA members say in their collective statement.

They lament, “Tragically some individuals engaged in acts of violence and terrorism have aggravated the state of insecurity in our subregion.”

RECOWA members highlight the challenges bedeviling the people of God in their respective countries saying, “Our people are hungry, dehumanized and suffering; our youth are exposed to life threatening adventures on the high seas in their bid to discover greener pastures in overseas countries. We are called upon to give hope to these people.” 


“We call on all never to grow weary in denouncing and rooting out such evils in our midst,” Catholic Bishops from the West African countries that constitute RECOWA say in their May 7 communiqué. 

They further “urge Christian politicians, traditional rulers, technocrats, professionals, especially those in the media, business men and women, and indeed all our people to live out their Christian vocation in fighting corruption, ethnocentrism, sectionalism, and all forms of injustice in society.”

RECOWA comprises 16 West African countries, which include Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinee, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinee Bissau, and Togo.

During the May 2-9 RECOWA Plenary Assembly, delegates deliberated on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity, and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, and challenges facing the region in view of strategizing for “sustainable peace”.

In their May 7 collective statement, RECOWA members highlight the importance of human fraternity in the West African subregion.

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They say, “Fratelli Tutti can help us in our responsibility of engendering effective pastoral governance and greater social friendship in West Africa and in the entire world.”

They look back at the coronavirus pandemic saying, “The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic made us recognize that at the end of the day we are all one family. It opened our eyes to the fact that we cannot face our problems alone or in isolation.”

“Therefore, we must guard against the culture of indifference and individualism. We must always come together in solidarity to work for our common good,” Catholic Church leaders in West Africa add.

They urge “Christians and all people of good will in our sub region to overcome various barriers so as to reach out to others in need. We feel called to give stronger witness to our Christian values.”

“We all, Bishops, Priests, consecrated persons and the lay faithful are reminded that we are, as Jesus emphasized, the salt of the earth. Given that many of our people are suffering, we are admonished to show greater Christian commitment to alleviate their sorrows and give them reason to continue living,” RECOWA members say.


They continue, “Fratelli Tutti calls for the collaboration of all the organs within the Church and with other religions, civil society organizations and governments at all levels. The document also urges us to build up true fraternity to eliminate all forms of tribalism and ethnocentrism that are eating deep into the fabrics of peace and love in our society.”

The Catholic Bishops regret the fact that the “status quo, in which West Africa seems to find itself in matters of peace, which is merely synonymous with the absence of war, is not in any way advancing solutions to the complex problems in which many people and communities in West Africa find themselves today.”

“The Church, other religious organizations, governments, political and traditional leaders, civil society organizations and people of goodwill have a moral and spiritual obligation to ensure that the present generations live in peace and the future generation inherit a habitable West Africa devoid of man-made calamities,” RECOWA members say in their collective statement.

On a positive note, the Catholic Church leaders in West Africa say they “count greatly on the flickers of hope resonating in various spheres.”

“We remain optimistic that none of the problems bedeviling our subregion is insurmountable. However, we need to work together, with like minds in politics, religion, economics, social life, the media, in synergy to fight against all forms of man's inhumanity to man,” they add.

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RECOWA implore, “We pray that the Almighty God, who is never outdone in generosity to reward Nigerians ever abundantly. May the joy and peace of the risen Lord abide with you all.”

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.