Catholic Bishops in Sierra Leone Bemoan Years of Instability, Pray for Better Days

Members of the Inter-Territorial Catholic Bishops' Conference of The Gambia and Sierra Leone (ITCABIC). Credit: Vatican Media

With a coup d’etat attempt that followed a chaotic presidential election in Sierra Leone, the West African country endured one of its most unstable years, Catholic Bishops in the country have said.

In a statement they issued after their meeting on Monday, December 18, Bishops of the four metropolitan Sees of Sierra Leone expressed optimism that the year 2024 will present renewed hope for citizens that have also endured decades of devastation from a civil war, an Ebola crisis, COVID-19, and many natural disasters including landslides and floods.

Shared with ACI Africa on Wednesday, December 20, the statement was signed by Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of the Archdiocese of Freetown, Bishop Henry Aruna of the Diocese of Kenema, Bishop Charles Allieu Matthew Campbell of the Diocese of Bo, and Bishop John Hassan Koroma of the Diocese of Makeni.

The Catholic Church leaders said that they were especially still “in utter state of  apprehension and dismay” owing to the foiled November 26 coup that threatened to unseat Sierra Leone’s democratically elected president Julius Maada Bio.

The coup attempt, they said, came as they were preparing for, among others, new year goodwill messages to the people of God in the country.


“Following …incidents of instability in the past two years, we are in utter state of apprehension and dismay over the failed coup attempt of 26 November 2023, which came as we were preparing our Advent, Christmas, and End of Year Messages of  Thanksgiving to God Almighty for seeing us through the year in probably the worst  global economic crises,” the Catholic Bishops said.

They added, “In the midst of the current economic situation of our country and the world over, we empathize with our people, especially the poor who mostly suffer the impact of the economic hardships.” 

They condemned “in the strongest terms” the coup attempt on the Sierra Leonean government, and expressed their solidarity with President Bio, who they said had promised to investigate the November 26 incident and to bring all those involved to book.

They further suggested that investigations into the coup be free from tribal, religious and political biases, and be inclusive, speedy, independent, and transparent. 

They said that the coup attempt was a sad day for Sierra Leone, especially because of the country’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation. 

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“However, our collective strides in promoting unity and upholding justice will not succumb to strife and division. Together we have the strength to work assiduously to push our country forward,” they said.

They added, “In this regard, we commend our citizens for being law-abiding and for prioritizing the peace and stability of the country over any personal interests. We appreciate the efforts of the Government, and our gallant and committed security forces to defend our democracy and to maintain peace and stability.” 

The Catholic Bishops further expressed their solidarity with the people and the government of Sierra Leone amid the country’s political, social and economic challenges.

They further expressed their support to families of those who lost their lives in the coup and in other incidents of insecurity in the country, saying, “We are deeply saddened and devastated by the loss of members of our gallant security forces and innocent civilians and hereby register our heartfelt condolences to their families, colleagues and the forces of our country.”

They added, “We also condemn the alleged extra-judicial execution and abduction, and we ask that the rule of law takes course while upholding the dignity of every human person.” 


The Catholic Bishops pledged to work though Caritas, the development arm of the Church in Sierra Leone, in supporting the government and other local and international stakeholders in peace building, social cohesion and socio-economic development of the country.

“We invite other Religious Leaders to join us for special prayers for  national peace and healing, from now to the end of the year, throughout the country,” they said, and added, “We pray for God’s blessing on the Government and People of Sierra Leone through the Christmas Season and in the New Year, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

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.