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Pastoral Agents in Ivory Coast Trained to be “involved in the life of the society”

Facilitators at the Four-day Training Session for Pastoral Agents in Ivory Coast.

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in the West African nation of Ivory Coast is organizing a training seminar for pastoral agents in a bid to broaden their understanding of the Social Doctrine of the Church so that they are “more involved in the life of the society to which they belong.”

“By offering this training, the Bishops hope that pastoral agents will become more and more involved in the life of the society to which they belong," Fr. Emmanuel Wohi Nin, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI), told journalists at a press conference at the diocesan Centre in Ivory Coast’s capital, Yamoussoukro Monday, March 2.

According to Fr Wohi, the objective of the training session, which is expected to run from March 3 – 6, is to “strengthen and consolidate the knowledge of pastoral agents on the fundamental principles of the Church's Social Doctrine, in order to promote its practice in society.”

“The Bishops also want them (pastoral agents) to be present in public debates and in debates that concern the Ivorian nation,” the Secretary General of CECCI said.

In recent times, the Catholic Church in Ivory Coast has been vocal on issues affecting the country, inviting the people to take their responsibility in building a peaceful and prosperous nation.

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Peace, reconciliation and the electoral process are the main topics regularly addressed by the episcopate in its messages.

In January, during their plenary assembly, CECCI Bishops resolved to stand against “the sacrificing of human lives” and to engage in building bridges between the people.

On February 19, a delegation of Prelates in the country was also received by President Alassane Ouattara to discuss the “reconciliation of all Ivorians” as well as peace and stability in the country.

Addressing the President on behalf of the Bishops during the meeting, CECCI President, Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo said, “The history of any people that wishes to build itself solidly needs foresight, discernment and a future-oriented on all its inhabitants, without exception.”

Meanwhile, Jean Pierre Cardinal Kutwa, the Archbishop of Abidjan, who had called for a national prayer meeting titled "Let's go to peace", was forced to replace the event with a day of prayer inside the cathedral.

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This was after receiving threats through Social Media, the protestors expressing their intention to prevent the prayer rally that had attracted the participation of two main opposition parties.

Against this backdrop, the four-day training that is bringing together priests, religious men and women, and the laity will enable participants to "understand why the Church, which has a mission of a spiritual and supernatural order, takes a close interest in the life of society,” the National Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, Fr Charles Olidjo said.

“We are going to focus our intellectual efforts on the electoral process,” Fr Olidjo further said and added, “Christians, pastoral agents, need to become familiar with the social doctrine of the Church and see how they can participate in the establishment of a peaceful electoral process.”

For more than a century, Fr Olidjo explained, “the magisterium of the Catholic Church has been analyzing the issues of life in society to propose fundamental principles, to identify criteria for judgment and to suggest concrete orientations according to the vision of the Church.”

“It is the totality of this documented thinking that is called the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church (or SDC), which is intended to guide the conduct of the person in the spirit and vision of Christ,” Fr Olidjo concluded.

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