To Realize “true peace” in West Africa, “fraternity must be built at all levels”: Bishop

Bishop Hassa Florent Koné of Mali's San Diocese. Credit: ACI Africa

A Catholic Bishop who was among delegates participating in just concluded fourth Plenary Assembly of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) has underscored the need for fraternity “at all levels” for what he termed “true peace” to be realized in West African countries.

In an interview with ACI Africa Sunday, May 8, Bishop Hassa Florent Koné said that the fraternity needed to begin with those at helm of Catholic Dioceses in the countries that constitute RECOWA.

“Fraternity must be built at all levels in West Africa for us to achieve true peace and live in communion with our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Koné told ACI Africa said.

The Local Ordinary of Mali’s San Diocese added, “I believe that this fraternity must begin with us, Bishops. The first fruit we can have is the fraternity between Bishops from different countries, different nationalities, different languages.”

RECOWA comprises at least 154 Catholic Dioceses spread across 11 Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in 16 countries of Anglophone and Francophone Africa.


The countries 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 was held under the theme, “Fratelli Tutti: Path to building human fraternity and sustainable peace in West Africa.” Delegates 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 the May 8 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Koné said that as Catholic Church leaders in West Africa, “We have come together as brothers to cultivate this spirit of fraternity. And from this spirit of brotherhood cultivated among us the followers of Christ, we invite all people of good will, Christians above all, but also others.”

“This message of fraternity is not only addressed to Christians; it is also addressed to people of other religions, Muslims, people of the traditional religion, Protestant churches and even to other religions, all religions, all races too, without distinction,” he said.

The Malian Catholic Bishop recalled the visit of RECOWA Plenary Assembly delegates to a Muslim leader in Nigeria’s capital city the previous day saying, “We took a very significant step on Saturday (May 7), when we visited the Imam of the Grand National Mosque in Abuja to share this message of fraternity.”

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“If we want to build peace, we must work together. That is why we insisted that fraternity must reach all men and women of goodwill, at all levels,” Bishop Koné emphasized.  

The 53-year-old Catholic Church leader who was appointed Bishop October last year and consecrated January 8 reflected on the socio-political crisis in Mali saying, “We are deeply concerned about what is happening in our country. RECOWA members talked about this situation during our Plenary Assembly.”

Mali is currently under the leadership of Colonel Assimi Goita who led two coups in a span of nine months, first ousting the country’s elected President in August 2020, and on 24 May 2021, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government. 

Following the 24 May 2021 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Colonel Goita the transitional President, until the West African nation holds elections to replace the country’s elected President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was ousted in August 2020.

The move attracted criticism and condemnation, with the Catholic Church leaders in the country terming the 24 May 2021 events “seizure of power outside the legal process.”


In the May 8 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Koné called on Malians to “remain united and seek the path of dialogue for a smooth transition.”

“We pray that this crisis will not be a source of division between us, but rather a source of unity, of brotherhood between us not only in Mali, but in the sub-region and in Africa,” the Local Ordinary of Mali’s San Diocese said.

He implored, “May God bless all those who will hear this message and set to work with us in following Christ. May God bless our different countries and particularly Mali.”

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.