, 26 February, 2020 / 5:20 PM
A call to conversion is the key highlight of this year’s lent season in Benin, as the country celebrates 30 years since the establishment of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) and the birth of democracy in the West African country.
In their collective message themed “Let yourself be reconciled with God” issued ahead of the start of the Lenten Season on Ash Wednesday, members of CEB used the opportunity to remind the people of God in Benin “to walk in the footsteps of democracy.”
“Benin must be converted, we must convert so that Benin can live,” urged the Beninese Prelates in their message.
They added, “It is up to us Christians to help our Nation walk in the footsteps of democracy.”
They presented the message as a cry from the heart that followed their 1989 Lenten message that was titled, “Convert yourself and Benin will live”.
In that regard, the Church leaders stated, “It is up to us, Christians in particular, to help our Nation effectively walk in the footsteps of democracy, justice, peace and freedom in all its forms.”
Benin held its first multiparty elections in 1990, making the country the first in Africa to achieve democracy shortly after the Episcopal Conference was formed.
Despite this pace-setter role, the country has plunged into a series of political crises characterized by what critics have termed sham elections.
On its part, the Church in Benin has been accused of not resolving a political crisis that followed legislative elections in April last year.
Commenting on the coincidence between the country’s historical birth of democracy and the formation of the Bishops conference, the Beninese bishops said, “The sign is tall. God awaits us at the crossroads of our history. Let us learn to decipher the signs of the times to respond contextually and relevantly to our mission.”
“This message returns to the fundamentals of Lent times while at the same time establishing a link between this Lenten time and the thirtieth anniversary of the National Conference,” said Fr. Éric Okpeitcha, director of the CEB Communication Unit.
The Bishops in Benin urged the faithful to practice the theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, as well as that of fasting, especially on Ash Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Bishops have reminded Christians to pay attention to the Scripture as Pope Francis asks in his Motu Proprio Aperuit Illis, An Apostolic letter that instituted the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God.
“Lent is the privileged time of God’s solicitude which calls us to conversion for a life all oriented towards eternal goods”, says the Bishops, taking lent to imply “a radical conversion and a total adherence to God who commits us to live our witness of faith at the political and social level.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa