RECOWA Plenary Assembly Ends with Commitment “to new vision of fraternity”

Members of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) at the closing Mass of their fourth plenary assembly in Abuja, Nigeria on 8 May 2022. Credit: ACI Africa

Members of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) have, in their message at the end of their fourth Plenary Assembly, taken the commitment to work for a new fraternity in the West African subregion amid a wide range of challenges.

In the Sunday, May 8 message shared with ACI Africa, RECOWA members highlight some of the obstacles to human fraternity and call for solidarity among the people of God in West Africa.

“We commit to the new vision of fraternity and call on you and on all men and women of good will in our West African sub-region to answer our Holy Father’s call to repentance and ecological conversion so that we can renew the face of the earth,” Catholic Bishops in West Africa say in their message read at the end of the Holy Mass to conclude their plenary assembly.

They add, “Fraternal friendship and solidarity among and across faiths, nations and civilizations can remake our world.”

“As human beings, we are all held together by fundamental agreements on the essentials of all that makes us human such as love, respect, integrity, human dignity,” RECOWA members say in their collective message.


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.

The May 2-9 fourth RECOWA Plenary Assembly has been held under the theme, “Fratelli Tutti: Path to building human fraternity and sustainable peace in West Africa.”

Delegates of the Plenary Assembly deliberated on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity, and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, and challenges facing the African Subregion in view of strategizing for “sustainable peace”.

In their May 8 collective message, RECOWA members highlight some of the obstacles to human fraternity and peace in their African subregion.

They say they “are saddened to note, that after a period of relative peace, democratic governance and political development, we are now experiencing a return in the sub-region of political instability, military governance and increase in human conflict, wars and mass suffering inflicted on our people which threaten the very foundations of our common brotherhood as God’s children.” 

More in Africa

“We have watched with pain as the peace of our communities and entire peoples have been placed at risk by human greed and corruption, bad governance, ethnocentrism, etc.,” Catholic Bishops in West Africa bemoan.

They continue, “We have also observed the wanton destruction of the beautiful treasures of creation, namely land, water-bodies, mineral wealth etc., that God entrusted to us for the common good and also for posterity in our sub-region.”

RECOWA members say that the “theme of our Assembly is indeed an urgent call”, and add, “In all of these unhappy consequences, namely the ravages of the COVID-19 global pandemic, man’s inhumanity to his fellow man in our socio-political development, and the continued destruction of the natural ecology, we, the Bishops have not just stood by.”

“We have responded, first by prayer to God asking for forgiveness for our sins and sinful behaviors, calling for conversion of heart and educating to peace, brotherliness and greater respect and co-responsibility for one another in fraternity and social friendship and for the earth our common home,” Catholic Church leaders in West Africa say.

They further say, “We have not stopped calling attention to our grave duty to be one another’s keepers, and faithful stewards of the common good.”


RECOWA members continue, “We are convinced that, now more than before, there is an urgent need for us to draw the threads of our cultural values across different communities to weave together a culture of dialogue and encounter, and a civilization of love and commitment to life.”

The Catholic Bishops in West Africa “call on our political and traditional leaders to renew their commitment to working for the welfare and wellbeing of all of our people.”

“We heard stories of how some of our politicians and traditional leaders are even trapped in the web of complicity with foreign interests and are mortgaging the future of our peoples and posterity through corrupt trade-offs by striking deals that increase the poverty of our peoples,” they say.

The Catholic Bishops in West Africa “appeal to all in leadership, traditional and political, business men and women, public and civil servants, and especially our youth to stand together to defend our cherished values of family and brotherliness, which have always been the bedrock of our African cultures and traditions.”

“As Africans, we have always lived for one another. We must rise up now, identify our gifts and use them to build bridges of friendship and love. God, who is the Father of all of us, calls us to this,” RECOWA members say in their collective message at the end of their Plenary Assembly May 8.

(Story continues below)

They add, “We know and believe and profess that with God, all things are possible. And that it is in the sinful hearts of men and women that wars and strife and …originate.”

RECOWA members exhort “all People of God in our Church Family of God and our brothers and sisters of good will in the West African sub-region and elsewhere in these words of St. Paul to the Philippians 4:8 thus: Concerning the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is chaste, whatever is just, whatever is holy, whatever is worthy to be loved, whatever is of good repute, if there is any virtue, if there is any praiseworthy discipline: meditate on these … And so shall the peace of God be with you!”

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.