Bishops in Benin Call for “critical, creative conscience” ahead of Population Conference

Members of the Catholic Christian Observatory for Governance (OCCG), an organ of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) during the September 12 press conference. Credit: CEB

Ahead of the national conference on population growth and development in Benin, the leadership of the Catholic Christian Observatory for Governance (OCCG), an organ of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB), is calling on citizens to follow the deliberations with a “critical and creative conscience.”

In a memorandum titled, “Demography, culture and development” that was presented to journalists on Tuesday, September 12 in Cotonou, members of OCCG weigh in on the initiative that the government of Benin had announced would take place in September, aimed at identifying the best way to manage population dynamics in order to ensure that the West African country’s development does not slow down. 

“We have a common objective to achieve at the Conference on Demography and Development: to improve the living conditions and fulfillment of all citizens, now and in the future, on the basis of a shared vision of our future and a break with the preconceived and pre-established ideas that people would have us slavishly adopt,” OCCG members say.

They further say, “The national responsibility of all Beninese men and women to face up to the challenges of Demography and Development is a call to their critical and creative conscience.” 

“The challenge is to avoid repeating and applying on our national territory the demographic theories and practices of other nations that have defined their vision of society, and not adopted that of others, in order to tackle the problems of development and behavior linked to sexuality, marriage and the family,” say the members of OCCG in their 10-page memorandum.


They note that “the conclusions of the work on Demography and Development should inspire conviction and commitment to put our growing population at the service of work and inventiveness for economic growth and harmonious development.”

“The role of each person, institution or national organization is necessary if we are to achieve this goal,” OCCG members say in the memorandum addressed to government, decision-makers and the Beninese people as a whole. 

They further note that “a spirit of solidarity and cooperation must therefore prevail among us, based on mutual acceptance, recognition and respect for the specific contributions of each person or institution.”

“This collective commitment is urgent, because we are faced with measures to be taken regarding the demographic growth of our country in relation to the problem of development,” OCCG members say.

They continue, “It would be suicidal for Benin, now and in the future, to be open to the thoughts, cooperation and proposals for help of others that do not enable us to meet our own demographic and development challenges.”

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During the planned population conference, OCCG members want participants to establish the link “not between demography and development, but between culture, demography and development.”

“This means that any decision concerning demographic dynamics in Benin should be centered on the individual, with his or her cultural sensitivity, spirituality and development aspirations,” they explain. 

OCCG members want Benin to “assume its role as a sovereign State in international cooperation and use this to the benefit of its people, so that it contributes to respect for human rights and the promotion of human dignity.”

They also want “community workers trained to provide balanced information on the real issues of demography and development, including responsible parenthood.”

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.