“Are we mad?” Archbishop in Sierra Leone on Resilience amid COVID-19, Global Conflict

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of the Archdiocese of Freetown during an interview with ACI Africa at his office in Freetown. Credit: Caritas Freetown

With the protracted fight against COVID-19 and its harsh economic implications that were compounded by the war in Ukraine, Christians have demonstrated a great sense of resilience, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone says.

In his Christmas 2022 Message shared with ACI Africa, Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles finds it laudable that despite the challenges, including conflicts and wars in many African countries, Christians in these countries still cling to hope for better days.

“I think it was the German Philosopher, Martin Heidegger who once said that Christians are a strange people because they live in a damned world and yet claim that it has been redeemed,” Archbishop Tamba Charles says in the message shared on Sunday, December 18.

“A greater part of the world was just about to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic when Russia invaded Ukraine and called it a special operation, and its effects are being felt all over the world… Yet, amid these calamities, we Christians are busy preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,” he says, and poses, “Is something wrong with us Christians? Are we mad or indifferent to all this suffering?”

The Sierra Leonean Catholic Archbishop notes that fragile economies of many nations, especially those of the developing countries, are almost collapsing under the weight of high costs of fossil fuel and essential communities, and adds, “Besides, in many parts of the world, including the African continent, there are conflicts and wars of various kinds and degrees.”


“Add to all of these natural disasters, like flooding, landslides, droughts, and famine caused by harsh weather conditions attributed to global warming and climate,” Archbishop Tamba says, and commends the people of God for remaining resilient amid overwhelming challenges.

According to the Local Ordinary of Freetown Archdiocese, it was in difficult situations, such as what the people are currently experiencing, that Jesus was born.

He says that the world has not changed much since the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago.

“Even though the world population has increased so much, communications technologies have developed greatly, so much so that we have been able to send human beings to the moon, and medical services have improved tremendously, the desire of men and women to dominate their fellow human beings and in some cases to subject them to slave labor for their benefits, has not changed much,” Archbishop Tamba Charles says.

The Catholic Archbishop who also serves as the President of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) says that it was in the world’s “rather messy situation” that the almighty God decided to send his Son, Jesus Christ, to save humanity from sin.

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God’s intention, the IRCSL President says, was also “to restore men and women to their original noble status of being created in God’s image and likeness and make them co-heirs of his reign through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

 “Admittedly, more than two thousand years since the birth of Christ, this plan of God is far from fully accomplished. However, it still gives us reason to hope that, despite all the difficulties and the many man-made obstacles to the full realization of a peaceful world and a universal family or fraternity, God will one day establish his reign of peace throughout the world, so that all his creatures will be able to realize their full potentials, and men and women will begin to treat each other as brothers and sisters,” Archbishop Tamba Charles says.

He says that God’s plan has always been to see a peaceful world, adding, “It is with this in mind that we Christians celebrate Christmas each year and wish each other a happy New Year at the beginning of every calendar year. “

In his Christmas 2022 Message, the Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in May 2008 as Archbishop of the then Archdiocese of Freetown and Bo encourages the people of God undergoing various kinds of hardships never to lose their trust in God.

“Even though we are aware of and, in most cases, many of us are victims of the harsh economic and climatic conditions in our countries or communities, nevertheless we believe that God is trustworthy and therefore will eventually bring to fulfillment the peace that he has promised for his world. With this in mind, we celebrate joyfully each year the birth of Jesus Christ, confident that the peace God promised the world through his Son will one day, in God’s way and in God’s own time, become a reality. In the meantime, we endeavor to be God’s ambassadors of peace, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in situations of hate and conflict,” he says.


Archbishop Tamba Charles has also called on the people of God in African countries experiencing conflicts to create environments of peace ahead of the new year 2023.

“I would like to wish everyone merry Christmas and happy New Year in advance,” he says.

The Sierra Leonean Catholic Archbishop adds, “I pray that we may all endeavor to break down every barrier to God’s peace and justice, and to create, instead, oases of God’s love, caring and sharing, wherever we may find ourselves; so that through us, so that the peace, unity, and love that God intends for all in the world may become a reality.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.