COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE AT THE END OF THEIR ANNUAL PLENARY ASSEMBLY HELD IN TAMALE IN THE NORTHERN REGION OF GHANA OCTOBER 7 – 14, 2016 2016 GCBC Communique
Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us to be merciful just as the Father is merciful, be with you all (cf. 1 Cor 1:3, Lk 6:36).
We are grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of peace and stability our country is enjoying. We appreciate all persons and institutions working to keep the country stable. We also thank God for the life of every Ghanaian, at home and abroad, and all who reside in Ghana.
We, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have held our annual Plenary Assembly at the Nim Avenue Hotel in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana from October 7 to 14, 2016 under the theme: “Reconciliation with God, Humanity and Nature in the Year of Mercy”. We have drawn inspiration from two very important events of the Church, namely, the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016) and the release, by Pope Francis, of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for our Common Home). We will have the national climax for the celebration of the Year of Mercy here in Tamale on Sunday, October 16, 2016.
We had the opportunity to visit and interact with the Northern Regional Minister, Hon. Abubakar Abdallah, and some members of the Northern Regional Coordinating Council as well as the Kampakuya Naa Abdulai Andani, Regent of the Dagbon Kingdom. We also held meetings first, with Mrs. Charlotte Osei, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, and two other Commissioners, and then, with Hon. Prosper Douglas Bani, Minister for the Interior, Dr. John Kudalor, the Inspector General of Police and other officers of the Security Forces and Services. In the light of our theme and in consideration of the socio-political situation of our country Ghana, we wish to share with you the following reflections.
RECONCILIATION WITH GOD
Mercy is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to us. God has always had a special affection for humanity (cf. Ps 8) so much that even after Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen 3), He purposefully and progressively showed mercy to reconcile us to Himself. Throughout the Old Testament, God presents Himself as “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents in punishing” (Joel 2:13), “One who takes delight in the vindication of His children” (Is 62:1), and “One who cannot forget His children” (Ps 137:5-6).
God has shown us the fullness of His love and mercy through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 3:16). Jesus Christ is the reflection of His Father’s Mercy and taught us to be merciful and take advantage of the opportunities of reconciliation (cf. Lk 6:26-36), through the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the merciful father (cf. Lk 15:1-32).
In the Church, the unfathomable mercy of God that reconciles us with Him is dispensed by the gift of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of bishops and priests (cf. Jn. 20:21-23). In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God the Father initiates the call for reconciliation, Jesus Christ welcomes the penitent and the Holy Spirit rewards the penitent who responds to God’s invitation and sincerely approaches the fountain of mercy. Mercy is the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness. Having reconciled us to Himself through mercy, God sends us into the world as ambassadors of His reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5: 18-20).
RECONCILIATION WITH HUMANITY
Mercy is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Having had the privilege of knowing and sharing in the love and mercy of God, we, the beneficiaries, have the sacred duty to live and testify to mercy.
We, who form the Body of Christ, loved and forgiven, have been commissioned to announce the mercy of God in truth and in action. Let us therefore pattern our behaviour after Jesus Christ who went out to everyone without exception. We encourage a sincere spirit of reconciliation between the bishops and their collaborators, among priests and religious, religious leaders and their members, chiefs and their subjects, political leaders and their followers, societies, groups, employers and employees, spouses, parents and their children, and within families.
In our endeavour to be merciful just as our Father is merciful (cf. Lk 6:36), let us open our hearts to all people – our families, friends, brothers, sisters and even our enemies – wounded by our humiliating indifference. Let us bind them with mercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care.
Let us all be mindful always of the words of Jesus Christ: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers (and sisters), you do to me” (Mt 25:40). Reawakened in conscience, let us feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead, counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently with those who do us ill and pray for the living and the dead (cf. the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy and the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy). These are more profound means of reconciling with one another.
RECONCILIATION WITH NATURE
Mercy must equally prompt our actions from harming our natural environment. Human beings connect with nature in various ways: “… our bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters…” (Laudato Si’, 2). The earth is our common home. Yet, we have inflicted harm of various kinds and degrees on our natural environment by our irresponsible use. We have plundered our environment recklessly through indiscriminate dumping of rubbish and industrial waste, ‘galamsay’ activities, logging, deforestation, water pollution and other forms of ecological degradation.
We urge all Catholics and Ghanaians in general, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which God has entrusted to our care and to reaffirm our personal vocation to be stewards of creation, and to implore His help for the protection of creation as well as His pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.
God gave us the earth “to cultivate and to take care of” (Gen 2:15) in a balanced and respectful way. To cultivate too much and to care too little, is to sin. In this Year of Mercy and beyond, let us resolve to implore God’s mercy for those sins against creation that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed. We likewise commit ourselves to taking concrete steps towards ecological conversion, which requires a clear recognition of our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbours, creation and the Creator.
We are unhappy with the growing incidence of land grab in the country and the indiscriminate acquisition of large tracts of land by multinational corporations, usually led by greedy and unpatriotic indigenes. While we do not discourage investment in food production and opportunities for industrialization, we condemn land acquisition that robs Ghanaians of their heritage and impacts negatively on the ecosystems and food cultures of our people. We call on all key institutions, charged with the planning, administration and conservation of land, to stop the incidence of land grab.
The Catholic Church in Ghana embraces wholeheartedly the renewed work of mercy and care for our common home which “… allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us…” (Laudato Si’, 85). We pledge to demonstrate our care for our common home in simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.
We commend the current call, throughout the country, for the monthly clean-up exercises within our immediate surroundings. We further urge Ghanaians to do these exercises more frequently and religiously. As we seek to be godly, let us equally endeavour to be cleaner. We cannot be happy with the perception that Ghana is among the world’s dirtiest countries. Let us treat our environment the very way we will treat ourselves since a healthy environment makes us healthier and happier.
CHURCH AND STATE PARTNERSHIP
We, wish to plead with the State, especially the Legislature, the Ministry of Education and other key stakeholders, to expedite action on the passing of the Education Bill into law. It is our hope that this important Bill, when passed into law, will clarify the specific role and partnership between the Church and State in addressing more firmly, fairly and responsibly the needs of education in our country. We insist that the Bill should take into consideration the proposals the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and other faith-based institutions have tabled before the Minister for Education.
On health, we demand that the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) refund to health facilities their allocations for services rendered to Ghanaians through the insurance scheme. We call upon the Ministry of Health to intervene as a matter of urgency so that all health service institutions in Ghana can sustain and promote their healing ministry through their hospitals and clinics. A healthy human capital will ensure a healthier Ghana.
DIALOGUE AND PEACE
Unlike other parts of the world where religion is sometimes used to promote and sustain conflict, it is heartwarming to learn that, here in Tamale and elsewhere in Ghana, Muslims interact peacefully with Christians in schools, hospitals and various places of work.
We sincerely commend the successive governments and various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) for their efforts of promoting peace in the Northern Region, a region perceived as most vulnerable to diverse conflicts. We hereby state that government’s efforts should be aimed at a more holistic and sustained approach in addressing the very factors that fuel these conflicts. Since peace is the new name for development (cf. Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio), in seeking the development of the Northern Region, the need for sustainable peace cannot and should not be overlooked, especially in this season of elections.
CONCERNS ON THE 2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS
We have observed that in some parts of Africa and elsewhere in the world, political elections have left behind unhealed scars of violence and disrespect for the rule of law. The consequence of these acts has not only unleashed irrecoverable cost on those nations but also miserable plagues of instability and insecurity.
Since Ghana will go to the polls on December 7, 2016, let us implore God to look mercifully upon our country Ghana and help choose, through a diligent and sincere exercise of our franchise, leaders after His own heart. Our prayer in the National Anthem, “God bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong” will win divine blessings for us only when we acknowledge God for who He is and make amends with Him daily. A country cannot develop without the fear of God.
A decision on who should lead us is a decision for the development for our nation. Therefore, our political campaigns and platforms should not trade insults and attack political figures. We are one people as Ghanaians and we cannot accept that elections should divide us. Let us therefore safeguard our unity, growth, development and destiny as one people.
On March 6, 2017, our beloved Ghana will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of her independence. We intend to hold a National Eucharistic Congress in 2017 to rededicate, through prayer and reflection, our dear Motherland to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are at the same time very much concerned about the prevailing political atmosphere as we prepare for the forthcoming elections. We, Ghanaians, would want to celebrate our 60th Independence Anniversary in a peaceful and congenial Ghana. For the sake of peace and safety of Ghana before, during and after the December elections, we wish to draw the attention of all Ghanaians to the following concerns.
- Electoral Commission
The integrity and success of the forthcoming elections depend primarily on the Electoral Commission. It is the institution constitutionally mandated, among other duties, to compile the register of voters and revise it periodically, to demarcate the electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections, to conduct and supervise all public elections and to educate the people on the electoral process and its purpose. We commend the Electoral Commission for all the measures it has put in place to ensure peaceful, free, fair, transparent and credible elections. We strongly urge that the Commission should be provided with all the logistics necessary for the elections. We call on Ghanaians to repose trust and confidence in the work of the Electoral Commission throughout the period of elections.
- Political Parties
We appeal once again to politicians, members and supporters of the various political parties, during their campaigning, to avoid the temptation of making promises that they know they cannot fulfil, because this amounts to deceiving the people of Ghana. We urge them to avoid hate-filled statements and expressions that threaten revenge and vendetta.
We also call on party leaders, parliamentary and presidential candidates to conduct themselves honourably and to respect their opponents, both in their utterances and actions. Politicians should realize that their political opponents are not their enemies but neighbours who share different views. Since it is only the Electoral Commission that is empowered to announce the results of the elections, we ask all political parties, radio stations, the social media, and indeed everyone, to refrain from announcing any results before they are declared by the Electoral Commission. Further, we are very concerned about the phenomenon of vote buying by politicians. Such practice is an insult to the intelligence and dignity of the unsuspecting voters. We encourage politicians to stop such acts and entreat the electorate from yielding to such needless enticements.
- Security Agencies
We commend the Security Agencies for working towards security and peace in Ghana. We urge them to discharge their duty with dispatch and without fear or favour. We encourage them to demonstrate a high sense of professionalism by respecting the rights and dignity of all Ghanaian citizens.
The culture of impunity which has been manifested in sections of the Ghanaian society by some individuals and groups contributes to high levels of lawlessness in the country. We condemn, in no uncertain terms, the sycophancy and the operations of unauthorized vigilante groups. Consequently, we state that the prevalence of so-called “machomen” who prowl around intimidating and brutalizing innocent Ghanaians should be dealt with. We have received information on the recent gruesome assault on two Catholic priests by a “machoman” at Adugyama in the Ahafo Ano South District of the Ashanti Region. We condemn this and other similar assaults. We plead with the security agencies and the judiciary to deliver justice expeditiously in this and other cases.
While an election, in and by itself, cannot guarantee good governance, it can facilitate or hinder development depending on how it is managed. Participation in the political life, in the light of fundamental moral principles, is therefore an essential duty of every Christian and of all people of good will. We therefore encourage all registered voters to be vigilant as they exercise their franchise. To decide not to vote is to neglect your duty and run the risk of leaving others to decide your future for you. In the name of peace, parents and guardians are reminded that they have a God-given responsibility to discourage their under-aged children and wards from voting. In the same vein, we appeal to non-Ghanaians who registered, for one reason or the other, to refrain from voting. Let us all remember that we can have peaceful elections only if we ensure justice before during and after the elections.
We call upon the media to uphold the highest journalistic values and ethics in their reportage of the electoral process. We recommend that news about the elections should not be based on hearsay or prejudice. Information must be verified and the truth professionally ascertained. News and stories should not be targeted at causing disgrace or embarrassment to personalities, especially where it is clear that such reportage may trigger disaffection or incite violence.
- Politicians and Traditional Leadership
Presidential and parliamentary aspirants share similar constituencies with various kings and chiefs of our traditional communities. We appeal to presidential and parliamentary candidates not to take for granted or interfere with the authority and functions of these traditional leaders and the institutional structures upon which they rest. We entreat our kings and chiefs to protect the integrity of their stools and skins by refraining from meddling in partisan politics to the displeasure of their subjects as if to say that the party they associate with or endorse is representative of their subjects’ choice as well. Politicians and traditional leaders must work to foster peace and seek the integral development of Ghanaians rather than to divide them. Further, we strongly urge Religious leaders to be circumspect in their pronouncements and predictions on the outcome of the elections.
In conclusion, we urge all to pray, particularly in this month of October, dedicated to Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the peace, progress and unity of Ghana. May Mother Mary, Queen of Peace and Queen of Africa, intercede for us.
God bless our homeland Ghana. Long Live Ghana!
MOST REV. PHILIP NAAMEH,
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF TAMALE
& PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE.
FAREWELL MASS AND DURBAR IN HONOUR OF VERY REV. FR. NICHOLAS AFRIYIE
Sunday 4TH June, 2016
Written by Mr. Abaarozie Isaac Maxwell
The AU parish as is fondly referred to, the St. Kizito Catholic Church at Nima in the Accra Archdiocese is widely known for its manifold array of colourful participative Eucharistic celebrations and a multiplicity of strong indigenous cultural displays which are reflective and representative of almost all the tribal or regional lines in Ghana and beyond its boundaries.
Such great was the gift of a wonderful farewell mass held in honour of Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Afriyie, who had spent nine years in Accra and in St. Kizito as a visiting priest while serving as the Assistant Secretary General and later, the Secretary General of the Ghana Catholic Bishop’s Conference, a position he is soon to hand over and return to his home diocese, Goaso.
Very Rev. Fr. Afriyie presided over the Eucharistic celebration in the company of six other priests including his biological younger brother, Rev. Fr. Martin Adjei and the acting administrator of St. Kizito Parish, Rev. Fr. Michael Owusu-Ofori, and some seminarians.
Also present at the Mass were some family relations and friends.
Preceding the day’s homily, Fr. Afriyie recounted how he first came to the parish at the invitation of the then parish priest, Rev. Fr. Edmond Ekow Neizer who was once his class mate and had since fallen in love with the parish to the point that he had had to turn down many invitations to assist at other parishes.
He mentioned that he had seen the days of some other priests in his years of stay with the parish and they include; Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Arthur, Rev. Fr. William Abeiku Apprey, all once assistant parish priests.
Rev. Fr. Raymond Osei Tutu who was the last parish priest he met and Rev. Fr. Michael Owusu-Ofori, now the acting parish administrator.
In his homily for the day, he said that, Jesus symbolizes ‘Mercy’ and always had pity on the needy, the poor and lonely, and that He expects us to do same. He added that we must not give up on God even if things do not work out in our favour but always trust in Him at all times and not allow situations to determine our relationship with him.
After the post communion prayer, Societies, devotional groups, movements and ministries in the parish including individuals showed their love by making various presentations of gift items to him.
In his address after the presentations, he stated that, the greatest gift he had ever received was an exact painting portrait of him which was presented by the parish pastoral council on behalf of all the parishioners. In return for the love shown him, he also presented to the church, a beautiful Chasuble and a stole.
The Sunday was a big day of celebration for the entire Parish, the Feast Day of St Kizito, which fell on the Friday, 3rd June 2016 – the night of which a dinner party was thrown in honour of Very Rev. Fr. Afriyie.
The climax of the day’s celebration was the second half of the day’s program, the ‘Durbar’.
Seated as a paramount chief for the durbar, Very Rev. Fr. Afriyie was flanged by colleague priests with Parish Pastoral Council members including some special guests also seated behind him.Various tribal societal groups came in turns led by their adorned chief and his entourage, to pay him homage then followed by a beautiful indigenous traditional dance performance.
St John Bosco society representing the ‘Kassena Nankanas’ from Navrongo performed the ‘Joglo’ dance.
St Francis Xavier society representing the ‘Dagaabas’ mainly from the Upper West region of Ghana, performed the ‘Bawa’ dance.
St. Anthony society also representing the ‘Ewes’, mainly from the Volta region of Ghana, performed the ‘Agbaja’ dance.
St. Francis of Assisi society representing the ‘Ga-Dangbe’ from Accra and Eastern regions in the Krobo area, also performed the ‘Oglojo’ dance.
St. Martin De-pores representing the ‘Builsas’ from the Upper East region of Ghana, both Builsa North and South districts, performed the ‘Nagela’ dance.
St Cecilia society representing the ‘Akans’ mainly from the Asante land, performed the ‘Apatanpa’ dance.
St. Christopher society representing the ‘Frafras’ mainly from the Upper East region of Ghana, performed the ‘Porgnem and Soloma’ dance.
St. Theresa society representing the ‘Nawdm’ from the North of Togo, performed the ‘Timbinde’ dance.
As the performances took place, Rev. Afriyie could not but had to occasionally jump in to join the dancers as they danced.
‘What a day!’. This is how one would say in short with great joy and smiles.
A Summary of Amoris Laetitia
Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family
It is not by chance that Amoris Laetitia (AL), “The Joy of Love”, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “on Love in the Family”,was signed on 19 March, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. It brings together the results of the two Synods on the family convoked by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015. It often cites their Final Reports; documents and teachings of his Predecessors; and his own numerous catecheses on the family. In addition, as in previous magisterial documents, the Pope also makes use of the contributions of various Episcopal Conferences around the world (Kenya, Australia, Argentina…) and cites significant figures such as Martin Luther King and Erich Fromm. The Pope even quotes the film Babette’s Feast to illustrate the concept of gratuity.
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The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and this is an inspiration to the Church”. As a response to that desire, “the Christian proclamation on the family is good news indeed”.
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PREFACE TO THE PASTORAL GUIDELINES FROM THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE IN THE WAKE OF THE 2014 SECOND NATIONAL PASTORAL CONGRESS HELD IN SUNYANI: 5-12 AUGUST 2014
Beloved in Christ,
As we stepped into the New Year 2015, Ghanaians flocked in their numbers into their various places of worship to thank the Lord for all the good things they had received in the past year and to ask for blessings upon the new one.
The Catholic Church in Ghana, as she counts her blessings of the past year, cannot overlook the grace of holding a very successful Second National Pastoral Congress in Sunyani in the month of August on the theme: The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith in Ghana in the Light of Africae Munus.
Participants at that Congress will certainly recall the emphasis placed on the need to follow up with the implementation, in all the Archdioceses and Dioceses of Ghana, of the outcome, to be based on the Pastoral Guidelines that would be issued by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
To this end, the National Planning Committee of the Congress submitted to the Bishops at their Annual Plenary Assembly held in Accra in November 2014 the Acts of the Second National Pastoral Congress, a full record of the proceedings at the Congress for their attention and action.
I now have the pleasure to present to you the following Pastoral Guidelines from your Bishops to be assiduously followed during a period of three years, that is to say 2015-2017 after which, in fulfilment of the desires expressed at the Congress for a more frequent pastoral exercise of the kind which took place at Sunyani, another gathering of the Church in Ghana should profitably consider how best to proceed.
Furthermore, the Bishops have tasked the aforesaid Planning Committee to serve as the National Implementation Committee of these Pastoral Guidelines in order to co-ordinate at the national level, through the Office of the Department of Pastoral Ministry and Evangelization, the efforts of the various ecclesiastical circumscriptions geared at implementing the same Pastoral Guidelines. We urge all and sundry to make themselves available, if and when approached by the National Implementation Committee, to collaborate towards achieving the national goal of bringing the benefits of the Second National Pastoral Congress to the doorsteps of the Christian Lay Faithful.
May the Lord, who has entrusted to us the noble mission of proclaiming the Good News, accompany our every effort to bring the unchanging message of the Gospel to the men and women of today in a language and manner that they can understand https://espanolcialis.net/comprar-levitra-generico/.
Given at the National Catholic Secretariat on this 12th day of January, 2015.
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU,
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG AND
PRESIDENT OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE.
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DIRECTIVE ANNOUNCING THE CHURCHES OF MERCY FOR THE SEASON OF LENT IN THE JUBILEE OF MERCY
My dearly beloved Clergy, Religious and faithful People of God in the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, may the Mercy of God the Father…be with you all.
In his Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy (MV 17), our Holy Father Pope Francis gives the following directives that “The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year should also be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. How many pages of Sacred Scripture are appropriate for meditation during the weeks of Lent to help us rediscover the merciful face of the Father!”
In consultation with the Council of Priests, I bring to your attention the following designated as “Churches of Mercy” for the season of Lent in our Archdiocese. May I indicate that the “Churches of Mercy” and the Places of Pilgrimage already designated Archdiocesan Jubilee of Mercy Shrines (here-below) carry with them the Indulgences graciously granted by the Holy Father for pilgrims (see MV 22)
- They are the Holy Spirit Cathedral and its Holy Door as well as the following Marian Grottoes:
- Christ the King Parish, Switchback Road, Cantonments
- St. Margaret Mary Parish, Dansoman
- Our Lady of Assumption Parish, New Achimota
- St. John the Evangelist Parish, Adentan
- St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Tema Community 8
- Asutsuare Mountains Pilgrimage Place
- Churches of Mercy: The “Churches of Mercy” are to be places where priests would be available for a majority time of the day, especially at hours of the day accessible to workers for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation; the Sacrament of Mercy. The location of these Churches should enable the People of God avail themselves more easily for Confessions and other penitential and Lenten programmes in between office hours.
The “Churches of Mercy” for this season of Lent include the following:
Holy Spirit Cathedral, Adabraka
Christ the King, Cantonments
Divine Mercy, Okponglo
St. Margaret Mary, Dansoman
Sacred Heart, Derby Avenue
Ss. Peter and Paul, New Aplaku
St. Theresa, Kaneshie
Our Lady of Assumption, New Achimota
St. Paul’s Catholic Seminary, Sowutuom
Queen of Peace, Madina
St. John the Evangelist, Adentan
St. Agnes, Dodowa
St. Kizito, Nima
St. Sylvanus, Pokuase
St. Paul, Kpehe
St. Thomas Aquinas, Legon
St. Joseph the Worker, Comm. 8
Our Lady of Mercy, Comm. 1
St. Augustine, Ashaiman
St. Mary, Koluedor
St. John Vianney, Asutsuare
St. Maria Goretti, Battor
St. Peter Claver, Ada Foah
Archbishop Andoh Catechetical Centre, Kordiabeh
- Some Suggestions: Besides the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (Confessions) at the “Churches of Mercy”, other liturgical and para-liturgical services, i.e., “Hour of Grace”; Divine Mercy Chaplet and Devotion, Stations of the Cross, Community Prayer of the Holy Rosary, etc., should be encouraged during this Lenten Season. It is suggested that in each deanery a roster of Confessors be drawn up to enable the faithful know when the Confessors and “Missionaries of Mercy” are available at the “Churches of Mercy” and also to guide the Faithful as to where to visit for Confessions in the course of the week.
According to Pope Francis, “…the Missionaries of Mercy will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon. They will be facilitators of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again. … Everyone, in fact, without exception, is called to embrace the call to mercy” (MV. 18).
- Concluding, the Holy Father writes: “May pastors, especially during the liturgical seasons of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, be diligent in calling back the faithful ‘to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace’ (Heb 4:16)” (MV 18).
“May the message of mercy reach every one, and may no one be indifferent in our Archdiocese to the call to experience mercy” (MV 19). Finally, “in this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of casting open the doors of his heart and of repeating that he loves us and wants to share his love with us” (MV 25).
May Mary, the Immaculate Conceived, the Mother of Mercy and Refuge of Sinners, who at the foot of the Cross of Christ received us sinful men and women for her children in the faith, continue to intercede for each and every one of us!
Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.
On the First Sunday of Lent,
Sunday, February 14, 2016.
FIFTEEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LENT
- What is Lent?
Lent is the 40-day period before Easter, which the Church uses to prepare for the celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
- What is the duration for the period of Lent?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is the day on which the faithful have their foreheads signed with ashes in the form of a Cross. It ends at noon on Holy Saturday. The 40 days excludes the five Sundays of Lent.
- Why do Catholics have their foreheads marked with a cross on Ash Wednesday?
In the Bible, a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person’s ownership. When a person’s forehead is marked with the sign of the cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a Cross. This symbolic action is done in imitation of the spiritual mark or seal that is put on a Christian in baptism, when he is delivered from slavery to sin and the devil, and made a servant of righteousness and Christ (Rom. 6:3-18). It is also in imitation of the way the righteous are described in the book of Revelation: “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.” (Rev 7:3). So the sealing with the cross means we have been marked for God and are ready to make a covenant with God for 40 days.
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MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS FOR LENT 2016
“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13).
“The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee”
- Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelized
In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord”, I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand. For this reason, during the season of Lent I will send out Missionaries of Mercy as a concrete sign to everyone of God’s closeness and forgiveness.
After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. In the prophetic tradition, mercy is strictly related – even on the etymological level – to the maternal womb (rahamim) and to a generous, faithful and compassionate goodness (hesed) shown within marriage and family relationships.
- God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy
The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth. Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images – as in the case of Hosea (cf. Hos 1-2) – show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people.
This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him “mercy incarnate” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). As a man, Jesus of Nazareth is a true son of Israel; he embodies that perfect hearing required of every Jew by the Shema, which today too is the heart of God’s covenant with Israel: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt 6:4-5). As the Son of God, he is the Bridegroom who does everything to win over the love of his bride, to whom he is bound by an unconditional love which becomes visible in the eternal wedding feast.
This is the very heart of the apostolic kerygma, in which divine mercy holds a central and fundamental place. It is “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (Evangelii Gaudium, 36), that first proclamation which “we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment” (ibid., 164). Mercy “expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (Misericordiae Vultus, 21), thus restoring his relationship with him. In Jesus crucified, God shows his desire to draw near to sinners, however far they may have strayed from him. In this way he hopes to soften the hardened heart of his Bride.
- The works of mercy
God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged. For this reason, I expressed my hope that “the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy” (ibid., 15). For in the poor, the flesh of Christ “becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled… to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us” (ibid.). It is the unprecedented and scandalous mystery of the extension in time of the suffering of the Innocent Lamb, the burning bush of gratuitous love. Before this love, we can, like Moses, take off our sandals (cf. Ex 3:5), especially when the poor are our brothers or sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith.
In the light of this love, which is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6), the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars. The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow. It can even reach the point of being blind to Lazarus begging at their doorstep (cf. Lk 16:20-21). Lazarus, the poor man, is a figure of Christ, who through the poor pleads for our conversion. As such, he represents the possibility of conversion which God offers us and which we may well fail to see. Such blindness is often accompanied by the proud illusion of our own omnipotence, which reflects in a sinister way the diabolical “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5) which is the root of all sin. This illusion can likewise take social and political forms, as shown by the totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, and, in our own day, by the ideologies of monopolizing thought and technoscience, which would make God irrelevant and reduce man to raw material to be exploited. This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor.
For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practising the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. By taking this path, the “proud”, the “powerful” and the “wealthy” spoken of in the Magnificat can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them. This love alone is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with the idols of knowledge, power and riches. Yet the danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is Hell. The pointed words of Abraham apply to them and to all of us: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Lk 16:29). Such attentive listening will best prepare us to celebrate the final victory over sin and death of the Bridegroom, now risen, who desires to purify his Betrothed in expectation of his coming.
Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favourable a time for conversion! We ask this through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, encountering the greatness of God’s mercy freely bestowed upon her, was the first to acknowledge her lowliness (cf. Lk 1:48) and to call herself the Lord’s humble servant (cf. Lk 1:38).
From the Vatican, 4 October 2015
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
GHANA TO HOST WEST AFRICA CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN ACCRA (22 – 29 FEBRUARY 2016)
INTRODUCTION: RECOWA-CERAO is a Catholic Regional grouping which brings together both Anglophone and Francophone Catholic Bishops in West Africa.
DATE: From 22nd – 29th February 2016, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) will host the 2016 RECOWA-CERAO Plenary Assembly.
ATTENDANCE: 150 participants made up of Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops & other Church leaders are expected to attend.
THEME: “The New Evangelization and the Specific Challenges for the Church, Family of God in West Africa”
AREAS: (i) Reconciliation (ii) Development (iii) Family Life
COST: The cost of organizing this conference is huge. Donations in cash and in kind will therefore be needed to cover the cost of the following items.
- Made-in-Ghana chasubles to be given out as gifts to all participating clergy. The cost of a chasuble is 300 Ghana Cedis. Sponsors will have their names written in the chasubles for the recipients to pray for them.
- A full-colour Conference Brochure
- Accommodation for all participants for one week
- Transportation expenses
- Translation services
- Banners, flyers, etc
SPECIAL APPEAL: All cheques should be written in the name of the NATIONAL CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT or Cash Payment directly in any of the Accounts below:
- Account Name: National Catholic Secretariat
Account Number: 1047111000020
Bank: GN BANK
- Account Name: National Catholic Secretariat
Account No: 1261130001727
Branch: Gulf House
Bank: GCB Bank
- Account Name: National Catholic Secretariat
Account No: 00821162302511
Branch: Dzorwulu Motorway Business Office
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE ON ACCEPTING FORMER GUANTANAMO BAY PRISONERS IN GHANA
We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have received news of the transfer of two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners, namely, Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef (36 years) and Khalid Shayk Mohammed (34 years) to Ghana with great distress and sadness and wish to call on our Government to act responsibly and in the interest of the nation by sending these men back to wherever they came from.
Having learnt that of these two former prisoners, Mahmoud Bin Atef fought for the late Osama Bin Laden at one time, while Khalid Shayk Mohammed is known to have trained with the terrorist group, Al Qaeda, we wish to pose these questions, among others, for our Government’s response: What is their mission here in Ghana? Does their presence not constitute or pose a clear danger to us? If indeed these two persons are harmless and if they have been “cleared” of any terrorist act by the US Government, as our Government and the US Government and some others want us to believe, why were they not sent back to Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where they come from or taken to the USA which found them harmless? Did our representatives in Parliament discuss the merits and demerits of their resettlement here in Ghana? We need urgent answers to these and other questions because we think that their presence clearly poses a threat to Ghana.
Our Government should not take the citizens of this country for a ride by acting in ways that can have serious consequences on the nation’s safety and security. Ghana has been open to receiving refugees in the past but these two men are not in this category. We think that they are not refugees but time-bombs and so Government should do all it can to send them back as soon as practicable.
Upsurge of Terrorist Activities in the World
Over the past years, we have witnessed the upsurge of many terrorist groups wreaking havoc on innocent people in many places of the world. Today, the problems caused by such groups as those in the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroun, Al- Shabab in Somalia and Kenya, Houthi rebels in Yemen, to mention but a few, are evident for all to see. The recent terrorist attacks in France, Mali and other countries cannot escape our attention.
We have reports of the movement of Boko Haram fighters across parts of West Africa, looking for places to pitch camp. This and other reports should make Ghana reflect soberly on how to tighten our nation’s borders and security to ensure that we do not fall victim to the attacks of these terrorist groups in the near future. The acceptance of two former prisoners of Guantanamo Bay Camp is surely not a good move in the effort to secure the security of the nation.
Ghana’s Security in Election Year
In the lead up to elections this year, the security of our nation is going to be put to a severe test once again. We must understand that Ghana is not immune to the attacks of potential external terrorist forces. Yet, internal issues can make our country susceptible to such attacks. The Honourable Minister of Interior, Mr. Mark Woyongo, has mentioned that Brong Ahafo, for example, is a hotspot due to the challenges the people are facing in the aftermath of the closure of some financial institutions there. We still have security challenges in places like Bimbilla, Yendi, Alavanyo-Nkonya, and other places because of land and chieftaincy disputes. We have witnessed and continue to witness inter-party and intra-party violence and chaos.
This year is an election year and we expect our Government to focus a lot of attention on helping to secure peace and security in the country by dealing with the above-mentioned and related challenges and not to risk the security of our land by hosting two former terrorists. This is why we think sincerely and honestly that to have two ex-prisoners of very dangerous backgrounds walking freely on our land is a wrong move and wish to call on Government to repatriate them as soon as practicable.
We call on Parliament, Religious Leaders, chiefs, opinion leaders and civil society organisations interested in the security of Ghana to speak against this unilateral decision of the Government to accept these ex-prisoners to Ghana and to advise the Government to do all it can to send these men back to wherever they came from. We expect our Government to heed our humble call, if it is indeed a listening Government.
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG &
PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE.
(January 11, 2016)