Shelve “swords of hatred, bitterness,” Bishops in Ghana Appeal in Lenten Pastoral Letter

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The nurturing of peace and the shunning of “hatred, anger, bitterness, quarrels and killings” are key highlights in the Lenten Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops in Ghana, written in the context of the country’s general elections slated to take place on December 7.

“As we (Ghanaians) go to the polls this year, let all work harder than ever to shelve our swords of hatred, anger, bitterness, quarrels and killings, and reach out to each other in peace,” reads part of the Pastoral Letter by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC).

“Today, the sword can take the form of multiple registration, multiple voting, vigilantism, “macho” men who intimidate and steal ballot boxes, using the digital media to write and propagate damaging things,” the Bishops have stated in their February 24 collective Lenten message signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh.

Written under the theme, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled with God (2 Cor 5:20),” the Prelates who represent the 20 Episcopal Sees in the West African nation have called on all Christian eligible voters to exercise their civic responsibilities in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, saying “Following the footsteps of Jesus who did not shun his civil duties, all Christians should actively participate in the elections.”

“We need to exercise our franchise conscientiously during the elections to secure a better country for tomorrow,” the Bishops have stated in the five-page pastoral letter seen by ACI Africa and added, “We need to eschew the vote buying syndrome and vote according to our conscience.”


On December 7, Ghanaians will go to the polls to elect a new President and 275 parliamentarians. As political parties begin to campaign, there have been several calls from civil society organizations for a free and fair elections.

The presidential election is expected to be a tight race between the two main contenders, incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition candidate, John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

If no candidate obtains a majority, a runoff election involving the two candidates with the largest percentage of valid votes will be held.

While the NDC ruled from 1993 to 2000, 2009 to 2016, the NPP ruled from 2001 to 2008 and from 2017 to 2020.

Addressing themselves to the country’s President and the security agencies, the Bishops appealed to them “to provide the necessary and conducive environment devoid of fear, intimidation and hooliganism.”

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“When people are not sure of their safety, they will not risk their lives to vote,” the Bishops have cautioned in their collective message.

“Every human life is sacrosanct and needs to be protected,” the Prelates stressed and affirmed, “It is the duty of all Ghanaians to work hard to uphold the sanctity of human life before, during and after the forthcoming elections. The security agencies should be on top of the situation by being tactful and practical to prevent electoral insecurity.”

The West African Prelates also called on the Electoral Commission (EC) “to remain an unbiased umpire in order to restore confidence in the electoral system.”

“It should not be the case of he who pays the piper calls the tune,” the Church leaders cautioned. 

The Bishops added, “It (EC) is urged to conduct free, fair and transparent elections. All the political parties are to be given a fair and level playing ground to contest the upcoming elections.”


In the pastoral letter, the Prelates also appealed to all political parties and their members “to support and respect the independence and verdicts of the Electoral Commission” and at the same time encouraged all the stakeholders “to continue to use the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) sessions to engage the EC on their grievances.” 

Recognizing the significant role that digital technology is expected to play in the election, the Prelates have called on the 28.83 million Ghanaians to use social media, Internet, mobile phones, etc., “in a more positive and better way” cautioning, “These devices are not to be used to fuel hate and violent speeches.” 

The Bishops added, “Violence is the antithesis of peace and it prides itself on the sword. Jesus tells us: for all who take the sword will perish by the sword (Matt 26:52).”

Addressing themselves to Christians at the start of the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, February 26, the Shepherds have appealed, “Be confident in God's compassion, love and mercy for us and His continued remarkable action in our world.”

“Let each one of us make this year’s penitential season a unique forty-day journey with Jesus,” the Catholic Bishops in Ghana have implored.

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