Christmas, New Year Message: Ivorian Bishop Cautions against “trivializing” Reconciliation

Bishop Joseph Aka of Yamoussoukro Diocese in Ivory Coast. Credit: Vatican Media

The Catholic Bishop of Yamoussoukro Diocese in Ivory Coast has cautioned against “trivializing” reconciliation, which he says is a familiar term in the West African nation.

In his Christmas 2023 and New Year 2024 Message shared with ACI Africa on Friday, December 29, Bishop Joseph Aka also underscores the need for fraternity in Ivory Coast.

Reconciliation is a well-known term in the context of Ivory Coast, Bishop Aka says, and finds it regrettable that “we now seem to be trivialising it because of the different ways in which it is used by our country's politicians.”

For a country whose people have known “war and division”, the Ivorian Catholic Bishop emphasizes the need to foster reconciliation “so that no one trivialises the suffering we have experienced and which has led to the death of many of our brothers and sisters.”

To remain on the “difficult” path of reconciliation, the Local Ordinary of Yamoussoukro recommends the application of Psalm 85: "Love and truth meet, justice and peace kiss", and adds, “Without this, reconciliation in our country becomes an illusion.”


He also urges the application of the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s gospel. 

“Faced with so much pain, so many wounds, the only way out is to be like the Good Samaritan,” Bishop Aka says, adding, “Any other option leads either to the side of the robbers, or to the side of those who ignore the suffering of the wounded man lying on the road.”

The parable of the Good Samaritan, he further says, “shows us the ways in which a community can be rebuilt, thanks to men and women who make the fragility of others their own, who do not allow a society of exclusion to emerge, but who reach out and lift up and then rehabilitate those who are down, so that the common good is promoted.”

“The parable warns us against certain attitudes of those who are only concerned about themselves and do not take on board the inescapable demands of human reality,” the Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in February 2023 says.

He calls upon the people of God in Ivory Coast to be prepared to overcome reconciliation “demands without cunning or making ourselves feel good about our actions by making a fuss that does nothing concrete for a society that thirsts for long-term, peaceful human relations.”

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“On this path of reconciliation, let us remember that we necessarily need ‘love and truth to meet’. Without this, it is impossible to live as brothers and sisters,” Bishop Aka reiterates, and explains, “Those who are not enlightened by the light of love cannot tell the truth about themselves or others. He either lies or hurts others by saying false things.”

He continues, “Justice is the condition for peace, because it allows everyone to be recognised in their existential reality and to be helped according to their needs in order to contribute to social peace.”

“If justice does not protect the rights of the weak, it fails to promote peace and reconciliation; it becomes unjust,” he further explains, and adds, “To be just before God means to carry out His will with the conviction that this divine will is always a source of peace and joy, and makes us promote and defend an ethic of otherness.”

In his Christmas and New Year Message addressed to members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, Laity, and people of goodwill in his Episcopal See, Bishop Aka underscores the need for Christian fraternity.

“As Christians have understood it and lived it for over 2000 years, fellowship does not come from a human desire,” he says, and adds, “Christian fraternity comes from God and it is in him that it finds its justification.”


Christian fraternity, the Ivorian Bishop says, “commits us to building a peaceful world in which everyone can fulfil their potential, in communion with others as creatures of God.”

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