REFLECTIONS ON THE OCCASION OF THE SILVER JUBILEE OF EPISCOPAL ORDINATION OF MOST REV. CHARLES G. PALMER-BUCKLE, METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP OF ACCRA AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ACCRA
Readings of the Solemnity of Epiphany
Is. 60: 1-6
Resp. Psalm: Ps. 72: 1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Eph. 3:2-3, 5-6
What return can I make to the Yahweh
For his generosity to me?
I shall take up the cup of salvation
And call on the name of Yahweh
I shall fulfill my vows to Yahweh,
Witnessed by all his people.
Costly in Yahweh’s sight
Is the death of his faithful.
I beg you, Yahweh! I am your servant,
I am your servant, and my mother was your servant;
You have undone my fetters.
I shall offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And call on the name of Yahweh
With these words, my brothers and sisters in Christ gathered in this Cathedral, I greet all of you as I thank Archbishop Palmer-Buckle for asking me to be the homilist for his silver jubilee of Episcopal ordination. This was just when he was saying good bye to me in the bishop’s house in Koforidua after the climax of the silver jubilee of the creation of Koforidua diocese. I wish to assure you all that this may in the long run turn out to be anything but a homily. How could I have turned down this request? I took over the administration of CDK from him and more importantly he was the principal celebrant for my Episcopal ordination.
Charlie, please, have it already in mind if by God’s grace I am able to hit 25 you will surely be asked to say a few words for your younger brother, Agyaaku.
Twenty five years as a bishop/archbishop! Hmmm!! Many are the things that have happened for which time will not allow me to put them out here in this celebration. I will try and briefly highlight on some to make my point. I remember when he was ordained bishop of Koforidua, he had very wonderful black hair and beard. I still can picture you but look at what 25 has done to him. Please do not look at mine. It tells you that the ministry is not a simple one even though it is the work of God.
I recall very well when he started in Koforidua and for the first few years referred to himself as an apprentice bishop. He did his best to wean himself of this status and I think now you qualify to be referred to as a very seasoned Archbishop.
Whatever is the situation, we need to join him in thanking the good Lord for having sustained him in faith and in the ministry of shepherding His flock in both dioceses of Koforidua and Accra. We in Koforidua are proud that we prepared him for Accra.
We are using the readings of the solemnity of Epiphany, a feast that celebrates the visit of the Magi during which they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new born Saviour of the world. These were very precious and symbolic gifts. We join and walk in the footsteps of the Magi with the assurance that through our acts of faith in life we can also let others come to know Christ. Besides that, you will also agree with me Charlie, that, you have been presented to Mother Church as a precious gift and so will encourage you to use your gifts and talents in the continual development of the Church.
As chief shepherd and through all these years of ministry you have tried to serve the Lord in the people entrusted to your pastoral care. At the time that the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Chapters 60-62, Jerusalem was still in ruins, still a city forsaken. The prophet’s message was therefore to encourage them, to rise up in splendor because their light had come.
Our present society and for that matter, our world is struggling with all kinds of social evils, moral decadence of all kinds. Our nation is not exempt from these. For example, bribery & corruption is rife in every aspect of the Ghanaian society which is a concern to many, homosexuality, lesbianism, some negative aspects in partisan politics etc. Since becoming a bishop/archbishop you have not relented in speaking your mind about these and many there are who have applauded your courageous stand on such social cankers. I should be quick to mention here that there are others who have also not spared you and even gone as far as asking you to put off your clerical garb and wear a political colour. Like the prophet Isaiah you have at the same time encouraged your flock about the fact that the light of God will continue to shine upon them. This is what your prophetic role entails, to encourage and condemn where necessary. It was not surprising that the then President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency J. A. Kuffour appointed you as one of the eminent members of the National Reconciliation Commission (2002-2004). That, also, came with all kinds of criticisms even as you were asked to serve on this important national Commission.
Beginning your episcopate in Koforidua, certainly, was not easy. You had to build it all from the scratch, no permanent secretariat, accommodation, staff etc. you moved on slowly but surely until some of the main structures were in place, temporal office space, diocesan pastoral & training centre, etc. You went through the length and breadth of the diocese, including the present Donkorkrom Vicariate, riding in small boats in the night with Fr. Otmar Auinger, SVD, Fafanyo etc. on the Volta lake in the night and during the day. All this was your humble effort in bringing the Good News to the people far and near.
You did your best to bring the people of God together and to make them proud of their faith. Ma wani ngye se woye Romani, was one of your famous songs with the people. You were the one who introduced the regular catechesis in the St. George Cathedral and in all the parishes and outstations you visited explaining the Church’s teachings and the scriptures to the people. These made very positive impact on the people and many have benefitted from this practice of yours.
Besides this you also introduced the Bible Youth Camp around the Christmas season for young adults and students in second cycle institutions from the entire diocese. The impact has been tremendous. I cannot but mention your special love and charism in taking care of poor and needy children. Sometimes I could not understand your spirit of perseverance even in the face of some disappointing beneficiaries. Some of such children have even been named after you, full name.
With your brotherly, priestly love and affection you never relented in your efforts at uniting the presbyterate of Koforidua and this spirit, I can say to a large extent is still working. You will stop at every parish on your way to some place and just say hello to the priests; what we termed, stations of the cross.
You have still the following to your credit as far as the Koforidua diocese is concerned:
- Prepared the first baseline survey study of the diocese
- The introduction if the annual pastoral leaders’ meeting, also termed Mini Synod
- Organized the first diocesan synod
- Payment of school/hospital fees for poor children/students
Charlie, a devotee of Blessed Virgin Mary
Permit me to enter a bit into his personal spirituality. This is a pastor who does not go to bed until he has prayed all the five decades of the holy Rosary, no matter how late in the night. With all these you have positively influenced so many people unknown to yourself.
When it comes to your episcopate in Accra, I wish someone else would have continued from here. My dear brother, what I have said above apply as far as I can get the feeling from some of the parishioners and priests in Accra. Certainly Accra has its own peculiar pastoral needs and challenges as it is but you have not relented in placing your pastoral, administrative skills in running the Archdiocese.
I can mention without fear that quite a number of your priests are also receiving further education in different disciplines within and outside the country to enhance their pastoral engagements. I can see the springing up of new parishes in almost all the growing areas of the capital. You have in place a Youth formation centre, Catechetical training centre.
You organized the second Archdiocesan Synod to brainstorm on very pertinent pastoral concerns for the Archdiocese. The Acts of this Synod, I believe are helping and guiding in the pastoral drives of the parishes. It was during your episcopate that the Archdiocese celebrated her 120 years of evangelization and presently preparing to celebrate the 125 anniversary. You have embarked on the restoration project of the Holy Spirit Cathedral. I humbly entreat you, my dear People of God to put your weight behind this effort so that this very Cathedral can be refurbished to the greater glory of God.
As our Metropolitan, I would like to encourage you to leave no stone unturned in building up our Province. Be assured of your suffragan dioceses’ readiness to support all the positive moves in having a united province. On the National level, I wish to thank you sincerely for your wonderful contributions and the amount of knowledge you bring onto the floor of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference deliberations.
My dear People of God, our celebrant will be the first to admit that his calling to the holy Catholic priesthood has been through the grace of God. Left to him alone he accepts that he is even unworthy, but still the Lord who knows the hearts of His children has chosen him and ordained him for His work. He has been humble enough to admit his own shortcomings and ever ready to renew himself in the sacraments offered by Mother Church. He aligns himself with the mission of Jesus who came not to call the upright of hear but sinners to conversion (Lk. 5:31-32; Mk. 2:17). He has tried fervently to share his faith experiences with others.
I can hear you repeating with the Psalmist: “What return can I make to Yahweh, for his generosity to me? I shall take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh. I shall fulfill my vows to Yahweh ..” Ps.116:12.
The Church in Accra needs you still to strengthen them in the faith. A journey that requires enormous prayer and sacrifice! Strive relentlessly for the unity of the clergy & religious. I wish therefore to entreat all to intensify your prayerful support for our brother. Continue to show love to him, because I know he loves his Church and vocation. Continue to offer thanksgiving sacrifice on his behalf so that he can minister still well to the flock entrusted to his care.
Accra and its pastoral needs can be complex and can be demanding. May Mary, the Mother of priests and your patroness continue to intercede for you always! Congratulations and I wish you many more fruitful years in the episcopacy.
Most Rev. Joseph Afrifah-Agyekum,
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Koforidua.
6th January 2018.
2018 DIACONATE ORDINATION
AT MARY MOTHER OF GOOD COUNSEL PARISH,
“For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord!” (cfr. Ps. 89:1.)
Sermon: My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, I asked that we maintain the very readings of today, Friday, January 12, 2018 of the First Week in Ordinary Time. They teach us a lot for this year’s diaconate ordinations. Before I say something about the Diaconate, let me share a thought or two with you on the readings.
1.1: The First Reading taken from the First Book of Samuel selected verses of Chapter 8 recounts how the elders of Israel came to the Prophet Samuel at Ramah to demand a king to govern over them: “Give us a king to govern over us,” they said to him.
We are told that Samuel tried to dissuade the People of God, but they refused to listen to him: “No! We are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations…”
When Samuel reported to the Lord God, this is what God said in reply: “Listen to the voice of the people…for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them…set a king over them.”
Isn’t that very painful and hardhearted, how the Israelites whom the Lord God had chosen for his own had rejected him; they wanted to be like the other nations, no more the special people that God had set apart to be his own, the people chosen to show God’s goodness and uniqueness to the nations around them. They wanted to be ordinary, not special, not extraordinary. “No! We are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations…”
My dearly beloved, this is the temptation we always go through; God has chosen us and set up apart to sing his praises; to reflect his love to those around us; …and yet we are very often content to be just like the others. How often do you not hear Catholics ask, why should be we be different? Why can we not do just the same way as the other Churches are doing? How often do we not find it difficult to be truly the chosen ones of God, called to reflect the glory of God to the rest of the world!
My dear sons, today, you are going to be set apart as deacons of the Lord God through this ordination to the Order of Deacons; and later on in the year, God will elevate you to the Holy Priesthood. You are today going to be set apart in order to lead and serve God’s Chosen People in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Please, do not be led astray by the temptations of the world out there. He, who has called you, today will set you apart for himself and for the service of his people. Please listen to the voice of the Lord and not that of the world around. Lead the people in a life of service as the Lord your God will require of you.
1.2: Today’s Gospel taken from St. Mark teaches us several very beautiful things also. Look at:
- the love of the four people for their paralysed friend;
- their show of faith in bringing him into the presence of Jesus Christ at all cost; even at the cost of “destroying the roof of the house in which Jesus was”;
- listen to what the Gospel tells us: “…when Jesus saw their faith…” NB: it is the faith of the friends, not the faith of the paralytic that elicits from Jesus the divine power to help the paralysed man…
In other words, your faith can help those around you or whom you know sick and needy of the help from Jesus Christ the Lord. Let us, therefore, never give up praying for and bringing into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ our friends who are sick and needy. Thanks to our faith, Jesus who notices everything can go on to do the needful for them. This is why we should always be praying for others, even non-believers or those absent from the physical presence of the Lord. Our faith can save them!
What else can we learn from today’s Gospel? Jesus who is God knows that sin impedes the grace of God from working fully in a person who may need God’s healing power to work in them. So Jesus Christ, the Son of Man who has power to forgive sins, goes on to say: “Son, your sins are forgiven!” Jesus forgives his sins.
My dear sisters and brothers, let us never take sin for granted; even a small sin can hinder the grace of God from being effective. That is why Jesus has given us in the Church the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, so that we can always be washed clean of sin and be properly disposed to obtain the full miraculous works and healing we need. Please when you go to confession, just do the penance you are given religiously, however very simplistic it may sound, so that the grace of God will be effective in you.
And for you my sons, you who are going to be made deacons this evening, never ever take sin for granted; go religiously for confessions so that the grace of God will be able to effect the miracles in and through you for the people of God. Always, bring the sick and needy to Jesus Christ like the four friends did and may God give them healing through your selfless service to the People of God.
1.3: Now to our diaconate ordination: the Holy Order of Deacon gives us the grace of service, the grace of Christ-like service. In the teachings of the Church, according to Lumen gentium 29, this is what the diaconate entails as duty and ministry in the Church: “…it pertains to the deacon: to administer Baptism solemnly; to protect and distribute the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, bring Viaticum to the dying; read the Sacred Scriptures to the faithful, instruct and exhort the people; preside over the prayer and worship of the faithful, administer sacramentals, and officiate at funeral and burial rites.
“Dedicated to duties of charity and administration, deacons should be mindful of the admonition of Saint Polycarp: ‘Be merciful and zealous, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who made himself the servant of all’”.
(A little explanation!)
1.4: Permit me to give the following exhortation from today’s readings to you my dear sons about to be ordained to the Holy Order of Deacons:
- Like Samuel, always listen to the voice of the Lord God through prayer and personal contact; never however, overlook the demands of the People of God; bring them to the Lord God and listen to what the Lord God will ask of you through the teachings of the Church and the directives of the Bishop;
- Serve the people with all your heart and soul even pleading for them and their failings before God; he knows them better than you would even understand them;
- Serve the people of God especially the most needy and at all costs;
- Serve them in faith and bring them to Jesus Christ the Divine Healer and Redeemer;
- Serve God’s people selflessly, in fact in the footsteps of Jesus Christ through your promises of Obedience, Poverty and Celibate Chastity. These Evangelical Counsels make you Christ-like in your life of Pastoral Charity.
Only in this way will you be able to bring Christ Jesus to the People that God sends you and the People to Christ Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life.
1.5: My dear People of God, let us also pray constantly for your sons as God makes them his deacons that they truly serve like Jesus Christ who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life in ransom for the many (see Mt. 20:28).
May Mary the Mother of Deacons intercede for our sons and give us many more priests in the Archdiocese of Accra!
Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra
Friday, January 12, 2018.
PASTORAL LETTER FOR THE SEASON OF ADVENT ISSUED BY THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
“We are the clay, and thou art our potter”(Isa. 64:8 RSV)
We the Catholic Bishops of Ghana send you this Pastoral Letter for the season of Advent. Advent is the pre-Christmas season in which we spiritually prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, while readying ourselves for his second coming.
The theme of this Letter is taken from the first reading (see Isa 63:16-17; 64:1,3-8) of the First Sunday of Advent: “We are the clay, and thou art our potter” (Isa. 64:8 RSV). It is hoped that as we prepare for and celebrate Christmas and throughout the New Year, we will each remain clay in the hands of our Creator, so that He will continue to mould us according to His divine purpose.
As this Letter comes only a few days after the Communique we issued on “Integral Pastoral Care for the Family in the light of Amoris Laetitia”, we take the opportunity to pray that every family in our nation will be shaped by the Divine Potter according to the purposes for which He established these families.
Click here to Download full Letter
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE
GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
AT THE END OF ITS ANNUAL PLENARY ASSEMBLY HELD IN HO IN THE VOLTA REGION OF GHANA NOVEMBER 6 – 18, 2017
Grace and Peace of God our Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, be with you all (cf. Eph. 3:14-15).
We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have held our annual Plenary Assembly at the Freedom Hotel in Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana from November 6 to 18, 2017 under the theme: “Integral Pastoral Care for the Family in the light of Amoris Laetitia”. Our theme was inspired by Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family – Amoris Laetitia (AL), which literally means, “the Joy of Love”, released on April 8, 2016. We are equally motivated, convinced and therefore affirm that the joy of love experienced by our families in Ghana is also the joy of love experienced by the Catholic Church in Ghana (cf. AL, #1).
In the course of our Plenary Assembly, we had a five-day spiritual retreat facilitated by Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. We paid courtesy calls on the Volta Regional Minister, Hon. Dr. Archibald Letsa, Deputy Volta Regional Minister and some Staff of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council as well as the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV and some of his sub-Chiefs and Queenmothers of the Asogli State. We also invited and interacted with Mr. William Darkwah, the Coordinator of the Free Senior High School (SHS) Programme. Among ourselves, we deliberated on our theme and appraised the socio-political situation of our country Ghana. In the context of our deliberations, we wish to share with you the following reflections.
THE SITUATION OF FAMILY IN GHANA
The Ghanaian family is experiencing emerging trends which are at variance with the ideal family image foreseen by the Church’s tradition of faith and morals. Some of these changes began and were noticed decades ago. Such changes include the increase in the proportion of “cohabitation and other sexual unions”, which were initially socially unacceptable, butare now gaining greater social tolerance. The phenomenon of teenage and single parenthood, poor or irresponsible parenting, separate household and distant marriages that make couples live apart are all aspects of contemporary trends in the Ghanaian family of today.
Children are influenced by the current social and digital experiences. Social media rule their lives and they must organize their experiences according to its dictates. Some must battle to find their orientation towards integral development amidst a myriad of alternatives with which they are enticed from different philosophies of life.
The urban elite live mostly in nuclear family systems that are by and large non-traditional in structure. Partners in marriage strive for self-development; they must sometimes maintain more than one job to sustain their desired standard of living and make sure that their children have the best of education and opportunity for growth and success in the future. Those that accept additional responsibilities towards extended family members experience more stress. Some families are in many practical regards alienated from their roots. Their children barely have any connections with members of their extended families and communities of origin. A good number of such children and youth may never have visited their places of origin.
SOME CONCERNS FOR FAMILY LIFE IN GHANA
The traditional vision of marriage and family life in Ghana attaches importance to procreation and sexuality. While social pressure is the same across the various models of family in terms of the place of sexuality and procreation in marriage, concepts, decisions, challenges and their solutions vary across the models. A general trend that seems to be affecting some youth across the social divide is their fixation on sexual functionality, particularly among young and middle-aged men.
The desire to be sexually active and effective among married men compels some to abuse popularly advertised alcoholic beverages, and what is worse, untested traditional or orthodox medication, believed to boost libido in men. Such young men come to realize after a few years, to their humiliation and surprise, that they have not succeeded in their adventure.
Most troubling, however, is the long standing traditional stigma associated with inability to give birth. In traditional Ghanaian communities, this inability is erroneously blamed on the woman, though there is increasing awareness to the fact that this challenge equally occurs in men. This challenge raises the additional concern for family pastoral care in Ghana. The many prayer requests from women and young couples seeking the blessing of fruits of the womb at various Church centres is evidence of the importance of childbirth in marriage and family life in Ghana.
Other concerns include the inadequate availability and involvement of parents in the direct upbringing of their children due to professional and busy-weekend engagements, the way couples and their respective families manage and resolve their differences which sometimes only breeds unforgiveness, instability, bitterness, disunity and consequently separation and the fate of young children in the face of such challenges. The increased monetization and exaggeration of customary marriages (erroneously named ‘engagement’) has become, in some cases, quite burdensome for the average young man in Ghana seeking the hand of a woman in marriage.
Apart from these specific realities of marriage and family life in Ghana, we recall some general experiences and challenges, identified in Chapter 2 of Amoris Laetitia, that may not necessarily be limited to specific cultures. These are extreme individualism which weakens family bonds and ends up considering each member of the family as an isolated unit, freedom of choice that lacks noble goals or personal discipline; and degenerates into an inability to give oneself generously to others, migration and its effect on populations, the ideological denial of differences between the man and woman, the culture of the provisional anti-birth mentality and the impact of biotechnology in the field of procreation, the canker of pornography and abuse of minors, inattention to persons with disabilities, lack of respect for the elderly, legal dismantling of the family and violence against women.
THE GOSPEL OF THE FAMILY
Despite the above situations, Christian marriages, as willed by God, are between one man and one woman. Such marriages are open to life and to the children that God grants them. The family remains the domestic Church, the vital cell of the society and it is in it that the Good News of God’s love is known and lived in our midst. Many Ghanaian families, by their witness to God’s will and love, build up the Church and society. We urge all Ghanaian families to remain united in true love and live in mutual understanding. Let us all contribute our best to inspire our society with the timeless values of family life.
INTEGRAL PASTORAL CARE FOR THE FAMILY
- Pastoral Care
We understand Pastoral Care to mean “any assistance offered by the Church – through her ministers or other trained and designated persons – to couples or families in their growth toward the model of family which God the Father Himself intended from the beginning (cf. Gen. 2:18-24) and which Jesus Christ renewed with His grace of redemption facilitated under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”. In making adequate provision for the pastoral care of families, we are conscious of the fact that “the Gospel of the family responds to the deepest expectations of the human person: a response to each one’s dignity and fulfilment in reciprocity, communion and fruitfulness. This consists not merely in presenting a set of rules, but in proposing values that are clearly needed today, even in the most secularized of countries” (AL, #201).
As Shepherds of the Family of God, we respectfully acknowledge that there are some difficult, irregular and imperfect situations of family life that need the most attention and care. Some of the difficult situations include families of migrant workers, families of those in prisons and in Psychiatric Homes, families of alcoholics, families with handicapped children and terminally-ill members, and single-parent families. Trial marriages, free unions, separated or divorced persons who have not remarried, customarily or civilly married persons who have divorced and have remarried, and homosexual unions are but some of the imperfect-irregular situations.
Given the importance of the family in the Church and society at large, the pastoral care of the family is a shared responsibility that involves the Clergy and Religious, Marriage Counsellors, the Parish-Church Community, Small Christian Communities (SCCs), Couples and Associations of Families. Special attention need to be given to the formation of special agents to accompany the youth at their various stages of development, to assist their understanding of the vocation of Marriage and Family-Life and the religious life and to prepare adequately for it.
- Pastoral Interventions
- a) Remote Care: Preparation for marriage begins from childhood; in fact from birth.
The experiences of children from their family of origin may be carried along to their own future families. Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and renew daily that decision. Parents and pastoral agents must intervene to effect this mandate in the life of our children.
- b) Proximate Care: In preparing prospective couples for marriage, Pastoral agents and Marriage Counsellors should assist them to recognize the “good times” and “bad times” of marriage, encourage them to discuss honestly what each expects from marriage, what they understand by love and commitment and what kind of life they would like to build to The decision to marry should never be encouraged unless the couple has discerned deeper reasons that will ensure a genuine and stable commitment. In the light of the demands of this stage, we direct that all proximate preparations for marriage shall take normally six months in the Catholic Church in Ghana.
- c) Immediate Care: In their preparation for marriage, the couple must be encouraged to see the sacrament not as a single moment that becomes a part of a past and its memories, but a reality that permanently influences the whole married lif They are to be encouraged to make the liturgical celebration a profound personal experience and to appreciate the meaning of each of the signs. We stress that the words of consent (the marriage vow) cannot be reduced to the present; they involve a totality that includes the future: “until death do us part”. We encourage less-expensive wedding ceremonies.
- d) Post-Marriage Care: As the years of marriage roll on, a couple’s experience of love may grow stagnant and may lose the very excitement that should be its propelling f Those who accompany couples in their marriage are encouraged to teach them that love needs time and space: time to talk things over, to share plans, to listen to and appreciate one another and to build a stronger relationship. Through these, couples learn how to plan and spend free time together, share moments of recreation with the children, celebrate important events together and share opportunities for spiritual growth. In all these, family prayer and spirituality will reap the greatest fruits; ‘for the family that prays together, stays together’.
- e) Care for Difficult and Irregular Situations: Special discernment is indispensable for persons in this category. Care givers shall regard such persons as part of the ecclesial community; not as excommunicat Avoid language or conduct that discriminates, show them respect, make efforts to reconcile and mediate through neutral and impartial interventions. It should be noted that the Christian community’s care for such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage; rather, such care is a particular expression of its charity.
GENERAL PASTORAL GUIDELINES
- In cases of civil marriage or even simple cohabitation (in our context, customary marriages), we adopt the recommendation of Pope Francis that “when such unions attain a particular stability, legally recognized, are characterized by deep affection and responsibility for their offspring, and demonstrate an ability to overcome trials, they can provide occasions for pastoral care with a view to the eventual celebration of the sacrament of marriage” (AL, 293)
- In dealing with irregular situations in the case of Marriage and Family Life, “two ways of thinking have been dominant in the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating. The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement… The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone forever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous” (AL, 296).
- “In considering a pastoral approach towards people who have contracted a civil marriage, who are divorced and remarried, or simply living together, the Church has the responsibility of helping them understand the divine teaching of grace in their lives and offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God’s plan for them, something which is always possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. (cf. AL,
297). The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care which would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the Body of Christ, but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it. (cf. AL,
- Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God. Let us remember that “a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order, but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties”. The practical pastoral care of ministers and of communities must not fail to embrace this reality. (cf. AL, 305)
ISSUES OF NATIONAL INTEREST
- Education and Free SHS
We commend the government for rolling out the Free SHS programme which seeks to make education accessible for many more graduates from the JHS level. We are aware of the teething challenges of this initiative. We urge that, as a matter of necessity, all stakeholders should help to ease the challenges of overcrowding in the dormitories, classrooms and dining halls of our Schools. A conducive teaching- learning environment is crucial for the effective implementation of the Free SHS programme.
- Phenomena of Land Guards, Political Vigilante Groups and Nomadic
We cannot ignore the fact that land guards, political vigilante groups and nomadic herdsmen have unleashed violence on Ghanaians for a very long time. These groups are employed by Ghanaians to protect their property but often terrorize fellow Ghanaians who have variant interests in the same property. Vigilante groups are creations of some politicians who use them for their political gain. While we commend Government for calling on the security agencies to stop the violent activities of land guards, vigilante groups and nomadic herdsmen; we state that we need more action than words. Government must walk the talk. We demand that our security agencies shall disengage these groups once and for all.
- Mob Injustice
The culture of mob lynching of perceived criminals is a sign of an impatient society that has no trust and respect for due process, rule of law and dignity of human life. We recommend a radical education that acknowledges that every human life in Ghana is sacred and ought to be respected from the moment of conception to natural death. We further encourage continuous education of every Ghanaian to respect due process which is a basic tenet of our democratic dispensation.
- Incidence of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable but sexual abuse against minors is not only evil, but also criminal and a serious indictment on society. Perpetrators of sexual abuses must face the wrath of the law, while we commend them into God’s mercy. We recommend further that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection should collaborate with the Ghana Education Service to put in place feasible structures for child protection in our Basic Schools. Our children should be
informed and formed on how to identify and report sexual predators. We have put in place and are running various interventions on Child Protection in the Catholic Dioceses in Ghana.
- Religious Leadership
We acknowledge with admiration the expansion of the Christian family in Ghana through the ministry of very renowned men and women of God of the new Religious Movements. We congratulate their genuine efforts of evangelization. However, we express complete disapproval for persons whose conduct and ministry only seek to worsen the dignity and capacity of the human person and exploit the resources of unsuspecting Ghanaians.
- Bribery and Corruption
Our previous directives on this issue seem to yield no positive result. We reiterate that corruption in every facet of Ghanaian life is not only perceived but very rife. This is unacceptable and must be dealt with at all times and at all levels of human endeavour. Since corruption is cancerous to the life and vitality of our nation, we call on every Ghanaian – individuals, Government agencies, service providers, public and civil servants – to stand up and to defend the cause of justice, probity and accountability. Ghana must lead and live the crusade against corruption.
- Galamsey menace
We commend Government, the Media, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations for their tireless efforts in fighting the menace of illegal mining that has plagued our nation. Let us sustain our efforts to reverse the harsh consequences of this self- inflicted destruction. We remind Ghanaians that our natural resources belong to those gone before us, those of us living and those who will come after us. We must therefore refrain from selfish exploitation of our natural resources to the extent that generations after us will be deprived of their fair share of these resources.
- Sanitation and Waste Management
A recent UNICEF report (Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: July
2017 – Updates and SDG Baselines) perceived Ghana as one of the dirtiest countries in the world. This is a shameful record. Let us rally in support of the campaign to roll back our country’s unsavoury sanitation challenges. As a Church, we recently launched an E-waste Management Project to manage electronic waste through aggressive education in order to preserve a safe environment for future generations.
- Traditional Rulers, Values and Customs
Our culture defines and shapes our destiny. We have observed how some religious leaders and their followers show complete disregard for some of our cultural values and customs through the use of demeaning words on radio, television and in their churches. We caution all who engage in such conduct and urge them to show due respect and positive regard to our traditional rulers, values and customs. We, however, reject traditional customs that dehumanize the dignity and wellbeing of the human person.
- Eastern Corridor Road
We appeal to the Government to speed up the construction of the Eastern Corridor Road which is in a deplorable state. The poor state of the road is not only affecting economic activities of the areas concerned but has enormous health and development implications. The road poses great danger to the lives of motorists, traders and tourists.
- On-going Conflicts
We have expressed in previous Communiques our displeasure about the Nkonya- Alavanyo conflict. Various steps towards a peaceful resolution seem not to bear fruit. People continue to die on both sides of the divide; people continue to live in fear; farming and employment avenues are on the decline.
We reiterate our call on all parties, to the on-going conflicts in Nkonya-Alavanyo and Bimbilla, to smoke the peace pipe and work for reconciliation and peace. We entreat the government to open up employment avenues in these areas to engage the youth on both sides. This, we believe, will dissuade them from engaging in activities detrimental to peace efforts.
- Crisis in the Republic of Togo
We have observed with grave concern the destruction of life and property in our neighbouring country, the Republic of Togo; a situation that affects Ghanaian families directly and indirectly. We appeal to the President of Ghana, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, to intervene urgently to ensure the safety of Ghanaians along the Ghana-Togo borders. We encourage all to treat refugees from Togo with love and warmth.
WORLD DAY OF THE POOR
We entreat all Catholic Parishes and Church-communities in Ghana to join the Catholic Church worldwide to celebrate the first annual World Day of the Poor scheduled for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sunday, November 19, 2017 – on the theme: “Let us love, not with words but with deeds” (1 Jn. 3:18).
May the Holy Family of Nazareth – Jesus, Mary and Joseph – grant that the families of all Ghanaians may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and may all who have been hurt or wounded find ready comfort and healing through the balm of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Issued on Friday, November 17, 2017
in the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Kpevele in the Catholic Diocese of Ho.
ADDRESS FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE CELEBRATIONS OF THE 125TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CATHOLIC MISSION IN ACCRA ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017, AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ADABRAKA, ACCRA.
O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
For his great love is without end.
Let the House of Israel say it:
‘His love is without end!’
Let the House of Aaron say it:
‘His love is without end!’” (Ps: 118:1-3).
And now, let the Archdiocese of Accra say it: His love is indeed without end!
- Greetings and Welcome: My dearly beloved sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus, all you of the Archdiocese of Accra, nearly five years ago, precisely on November 24, 2013, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, it was with these words of the Psalmist that I joyfully began and pronounced the official closing of the year-long celebrations of our 120th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Accra, at the Black Star Square in Accra, and I inaugurated with great hope and expectation the 125th Anniversary celebrations for 2018.
Surely, we all thought, well, let us see when that will be! Today, thanks to the unfathomable graces of God, here we are at the launch of the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Accra.
Without any doubt, you and I can once again borrow from the Psalmist that beautiful hymn of the Jewish Pilgrim to Jerusalem which says: “I rejoiced when I heard them say, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’. And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!” (Ps. 122:1-2.)
Yes, five or so years ago, we set off on this spiritual pilgrimage, a journey of preparation (individually, communally, parochially, and archdiocesan), and now our feet are truly standing on the threshold of the gates of our Jerusalem; our 125th Anniversary Jubilee celebrations. Yes, let the house of the Archdiocese of Accra say: God’s love is indeed without end!
I am happy to welcome you one and all to this event. Permit me to repeat ditto-ditto parts of my address at the launch some five years ago of the 120th Anniversary celebrations which took place here on July 02, 2013. I am saying this lest I be accused of plaigiarism of my own earlier address. I will give a short historical panorama, then I will highlight some of the events lined up for this Jubilee celebration, and I will end with some exhortation to you all.
Our 125th Anniversary celebrations will start on Saturday, December 02, 2017, and close on Sunday, November 25, 2018, on the Solemnity of Christ the King with Holy Mass to climax it all again at the Black Star Square in Accra, God willing. Again, this will be a year-long celebration throughout the entire length and breadth of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra.
- A short historical panorama: For your information, the Catholic Church in Accra began with the first Holy Mass on the soil of Accra on January 31, 1893, by Rev. Frs. Otto Hilberer and Eugene Raes, two priests of the Society of African Missions (SMA) who were sent from the Elmina Mission that had started in 1880.
In the same 1893, the first Catholic Baptism in Accra took place of Mr. Louis James Buckle on May 25, and the first Holy Matrimony was celebrated between Herbert Cheetam and Rose Mary Quaye on August 12, 1894. However, in 1895, the Accra Catholic Mission had to be closed down for Frs. Hilberer and Raes to return to Elmina to take up priestly duty there as a result of the successive deaths of their SMA confreres in that Mission due to tropical illnesses of malaria and yellow fever. The Catholic community of Accra was, therefore, left in the care of a Church committee led by Messrs Andoh, Brown and Yankah.
It was only in 1924 that Rev. Fr. Joseph Stauffer SMA was posted to Accra, and he purchased an old cocoa shed situated on the Derby Avenue, which he later refurbished and turned into a chapel that was dedicated in 1925 as the Sacred Heart Church (of today), the premier Church and parish of Accra.
The SMA Fathers ministered to the growing Catholic community here until 1939 when they handed over the then Eastern Province of the Gold Coast colony to the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD). Rev. Fr. Adoph A. Noser SVD became the first Superior of the Accra Mission.
In 1947, Fr. Noser was appointed the first Bishop of Accra, and on February 08, 1953, he laid the cornerstone of this magnificent Holy Spirit Cathedral. In the same year, Bishop Noser was transferred to Papua New Guinea to be the Archbishop of Alexishaven. He was succeeded as Bishop of Accra by Rev. Fr. Joseph Oliver Bowers SVD, JCL., an African-Caribbean from the Commonwealth of Dominica, who became the first black bishop of the Gold Coast.
After three decades of solid, foundational missionary work here, in 1971, Bishop Bowers was transferred to the West Indies, his hometown, and he was succeeded by the first Ghanaian Bishop of Accra that same year, in the person of the Most Rev. Dominic Kodwo Andoh DD., JCD, my predecessor. It was during Bishop Andoh’s episcopacy that the Catholic Diocese of Accra was elevated to the status of a Metropolitan See in 1992, and the Catholic Diocese of Koforidua was created by Pope (now St.) John Paul II. Archbishop Andoh, the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, led this Archdiocese to celebrate the Centenary of the Catholic Church in Accra in 1993, and he retired in 2005. The rest is recent history!
(Now, since the mortal remains of my two predecessors, Bishop Bowers and Archbishop Andoh, lie here in this Cathedral, let us rise and observe a moment of silence in prayer for the repose of their souls; one day, may they be counted officially among the saints of the Church as our patrons! *** Eternal Rest grant unto them o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them! May they rest in peace! Amen! Let us sit!)
- Theme and programmes for the Jubilee: The chosen theme of this Jubilee is “125 Years of Catholic Mission in Accra: Renewing our commitment to Evangelization”. It was inspired by the theme of the Second Synod of our Archdiocese celebrated in February 2009. To refresh our minds, the theme of the Synod was: “Renewing the Church and fulfilling our Vocation and Mission in the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra in preparation for its 125th Anniversary”.
Here in my hand is a copy of the Acts of that Synod, and, for the past ten years almost, we have been implementing the recommendations that were given for the strategic development of our Archdiocese, spiritual, financial, material and institutional. Sometime during these Jubilee celebrations, I believe, we shall have to have an Archdiocesan Pastoral Congress in order to give account of the state of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra to you, my dear People of God.
Again, for your information, after a lot of reflection and evaluation of our 120th Anniversary celebrations and our preparations towards this Jubilee, we decided to declare as our official Archdiocesan Slogan: “Arise Catholic Faithful! Rejoice and Renew!”
It was also decided to maintain as our Archdiocesan Logo a slightly modified version of the 120th Anniversary Logo. This will from now onwards be the official logo for the Archdiocese of Accra until another decision is made in the future.
My dear brothers and sisters, my dear priests and religious, here is a copy of the 125th Anniversary programme of activities! The celebrations should involve all Catholics of the Archdiocese in all our outstations and parish communities, in all our Church societies and pious associations, our apostolates and ministries. We are going to have celebrations on deanery as well as on Archdiocesan levels, of course. Parishes and deaneries are to put in place their own local organizing committees to work hand in hand with the Archdiocesan 125th Anniversary Celebrations Committee.
The year’s programmed activities aim at the three goals indispensable to the mission of the New Evangelization; they are to foster and deepen
- the spiritual growth in Christ (see Eph. 4:13) and the development of all our Catholics, children and youth, men and women, priests and religious, etc.;
- the correct knowledge and intellectual appreciation of the Catholic faith and doctrines (see Hos. 4:6);
- the spirit of fellowship and communion among the Church members, Church societies, parishes and in the Archdiocese, as well as with the universal Church (see Acts. 2:42-47).
Some of the programme highlights are:
- Monthly Focus of Archdiocesan intentions for prayer and talks in parishes/outstations/rectorates and to be included in the various society programmes;
- the Archdiocesan Opening Ceremony on Saturday, December 02, 2017; Deaneries are to organize Rosary Pilgrimages and Processions from vantage points to the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Accra, for the First Advent Vespers. This is to replace the usual monthly Marian pilgrimages to the Grottos;
- The Official Parish Opening of the 125th Anniversary Celebrations on Sunday, December 03, 2017 in every parish/outstation/rectorate of the Archdiocese;
- The whole of the month of December should focus on Children as God’s gift to the Archdiocese;
- Saturday, December 30, 2017, Archdiocesan Carnival at the El Wak Stadium to showcase the cosmopolitan nature and cultural diversity of our Archdiocese with very colourful ethnic pageantry and cultural display. Come, one and all! Let us have fun;
- The next event of importance is the Commemoration of 125th Anniversary of the First Holy Mass in Accra scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 14.00 GMT to take place where the SMA missionaries first celebrated Holy Mass on the soil of Accra. We are hoping to celebrate the Holy Mass in Latin, and follow that with a candle light procession with the Blessed Sacrament through James Town to the Sacred Heart Church on the Derby Avenue, Accra.
Two other very important events in the year ahead of us are:
- the completion of the Restoration of our Cathedral,
- and the 125th Anniversary Jubilee Lectures in Accra and Tema Metropolises.
The rest are in this brochure for you to keep and observe. They will be communicated to you in the various parishes, outstations and rectorates.
- Conclusion: Yes, my dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, my dear Religious Sisters and Brothers, and dear brother priests and co-shepherds, our friends of the Media, print and electronic, let me conclude again with the Psalm that I started:
O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
For his great love is without end.
Let the House of Israel say it:
‘His love is without end!’
Let the House of Aaron say it:
‘His love is without end!’” (Ps: 118:1-3).
And now, let the Archdiocese of Accra say it: His love is indeed without end!
Yes, indeed, the Lord our God has been good to us in the Catholic Mission of Accra. In the last 125 years, He has blessed us and we have grown from a mission station into the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Accra, the Catholic Diocese of Koforidua, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Donkorkrom. We cannot enumerate the number of the Churches and chapels, educational facilities, from first cycle through secondary, vocational and technical to tertiary, hospitals, clinics and other health-care delivery as well as the many social services institutions, etc.
Yes, here and now, our feet are standing within the gates of our Jerusalem, on the threshold of the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of the Catholic Mission in Accra. It is our hope and prayer that we will complete this year-long celebration under the maternal protection and solicitude of Mary the Immaculate Heart, Patron of our Archdiocese, whom we have been celebrating as Our Lady of Fatima in this Centenary Year.
My dear People of God, it is with the utmost sense of humility and gratitude that I now declare officially launched the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of the Catholic Mission of Accra, in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! Amen.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
St. Peter Claver, pray for us!
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!
All you Holy Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us!
And may St. Matthew on whose feast day we launch our 125th Anniversary Celebrations intercede for us!
Arise Catholic Faithful! Rejoice and Renew!
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!”(Eph. 3:20-21).
Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.
PRIESTLY ORDINATIONS FOR THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF ACCRA ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2017.
- Sermon: “The Eucharist and the New Evangelization”, Mary, Our Lady of Fatima and the Holy Priesthood are some of the various thoughts that come to my mind for today’s Ordination sermon.
SERMON FOR THE INSTALLATION OF
MOST REVEREND GABRIEL EDOE KUMORDJI, SVD.,
AT CHRIST THE KING CATHEDRAL, AKATSI
ON SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017.
- Greetings and Gratitude: “At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation”.
CIBT SOON TO OFFER BSc. PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTSHIP
The Catholic Institute of Business and Technology (CIBT) will soon begin admissions for BSc. Physician Assistantship. The new programme will be affiliated to the University of Cape Coast (UCC). Watch out for admission forms soon.
Meanwhile, there are admission forms ready for the ff. Programmes:
(NB: Admission forms cost only GHC 50)
- BSc. in Business Administration (Univ. of Ghana)
- BSc. in Public Administration (Univ. of Ghana)
- BSc. in Computer Science (Univ. of Ghana)
- B.A. in Religious Studies and Church Administration (Univ. of Ghana)
- BSc. in Information Technology (KNUST)
- MBA in Global Entrepreneurship (Cath. Univ. of Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy)
Get Admission Forms from the CIBT Administration Block (located behind Ministry of Information and Adjacent to the GNAT Hall, Adabraka – Accra). You can also download the forms from our website www.cibt.ghana.net
For any further information
Call: 0208241315 / 0205 4955 89 / 0307-033-547.
HOMILY FOR HOLY MASS OF CHRISM 2017 IN THE YEAR OF GHANA @ 60.
- Sermon: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pt. 2:9).
My dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, I chose this text from the First Letter of St. Peter, because it spells out the very import of the celebration of the Mass of Holy Chrism.
STATEMENT OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE TO CONDEMN ASSAULT ON THE KUMASI CIRCUIT COURT
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has noted with dismay the disregard for the rule of law exhibited by the Vigilante Group “Delta Force” at the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly Circuit Court on Thursday, April 6, 2017.We, the Catholic Bishops, hereby condemn in no uncertain terms the incident of raiding the said court and will like to call on all and sundry to do same. Such acts of wanton disregard for the legitimate work of state institutions and state officials only go to discredit the hard-won democratic credentials of our beloved country.
The Conference, however, will like to commend the Minister of the Interior and the Inspector General of Police for their prompt response to the Kumasi incident. We equally acknowledge their commitment to deal with any person or group that breaks the law irrespective of their political affiliation and urge them not to relent in their efforts to bring the perpetrators to book. This, we believe, will serve as a deterrent to the public and send a clear signal to such other “vigilante groups” who believe they can act with impunity and vicious disrespect for legitimate authority.
We call on the constitutionally recognized security agencies and institutions of our country to enforce, without fear or favour, the laws of the land and ensure the safety of life and property of all Ghanaians. We hope the security agencies will intensify their work of intelligence gathering in order to act promptly to avert such incidents in the future.
We also call on all Ghanaians to be law abiding and never take for granted the peace and stability we have enjoyed and continue to enjoy. Ghana remains the motherland of all Ghanaians and a haven for many peace-loving people; let us all, therefore, work together as leaders and citizens to safeguard and sustain the peace, freedom and stability of our dear motherland.
Issued on this 10th day of April, 2017 at the National Catholic Secretariat, Accra
Most Rev. Philip Naameh Archbishop of Tamale &
President, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference