THE ONE MINUTE QUESTION (30-07-2016)

Question: In Romans, chapter 3, it says that non is righteous and that all have sinned, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is without sin…could anyone explain this point? (Mercy, Ho)

ANSWER

1. The passage is in Greek not in English.
2. In Greek there two words for all. In English we have only one word for all.
3. To understand don’t use your English understanding of ALL.
4. Greek has
i. Collective or General All (pantes) and
ii. Exclusive or Group All (pas)
5. Collective All means every human being in the world eg. Everybody.
6. Exclusive All means only….all of a particular group eg. Ghanaians.
7. The All used there is Exclusive or Group All and not Collective or General All.
8. Since English doesn’t have different words for the two Alls…we see the same All in our English Bibles. This makes it difficult to tell which of the Alls Romans 3 is talking about. So we are tempted to think it is Collective All….that is everybody in the world…because English has only Collective All.
9. So to conclude on some of these Bible passages you MUST go back and read the original Greek Bible and not just the English translation you have in your room. Or u may ask someone who has studied some biblical Greek (eg. Catholic priests).
10. This is why it is not always correct to read English Bible and start arguing. You may be arguing from ignorance. So it’s good you always asked for clarification.
11. So what Romans 3:23 is actually saying is that All of a group of pple have sinned and fallen short….remember it used Exclusive All (“pas”…all for a group of pple).
12. It is not saying ALL human beings have sinned. That is why it didn’t use Collective All (pantes). The writer knows that if he uses All as in ALL human beings then Jesus and others like Mary would also be part of his statement. He knew Jesus was born of a woman like all of us. So Rom 3:23 intentionally did not use the Collective All so that he doesn’t create any confusion. He is referring to a particular group of pple and not every human being. He knew exactly what he was saying.
13. To understand why he refers to a Group all and not All as in ALL human beings (Collective All), please read the verses before this particular verse (from V. 21). He sets the tone there. Rom. 3:21-23

Always remember…when we take a Bible quotation out of context it becomes a pretext. So always read verses before and after a particular verse you are studying before you make conclusions. People usually quote a verse out of the Bible and start arguing….such a practise is always out of context. You are sure to get the wrong meaning. And remember the Bible was not written in English so be careful when you are making any argument solely based on your English Bible. You don’t have it all.

God bless you.
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THE ONE MINUTE QUESTION (31-07-2016)

Fr, at least I know in 2 Cor 5 : 21 this was said about Jesus:
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Yet to find a scripture that says that about Mary. Thanks. (Victus, Tarkwa)

ANSWER

Thanks too. You will not find that in the Bible in the same way you will NEVER find a scripture that says God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Trinity); yet you believe this as truth. This is precisely because the Bible was not written as a proof text or a fact-finding book. If you read the Bible with the aim of finding passages to proof this or that or to say until I see it written there black and white I will not believe, then you are defeating the purpose of those who wrote the Bible because they never had that in mind… “these have been written so that you may believe…” (John 20:31).

For example, if the Bible says 1+2=3, it doesn’t expect you to say I don’t believe 3-1=2, because that is not in the Bible. Why? Because it has given you the bases, the formula (1+2=3) and expects you to know that 3-1=2, even without seeing it in the Bible. The Bible is like our Constitution which doesn’t contain all the laws of the country, but rather gives the general guide to how laws must work in the state.

So the Bible tells us that Jesus is without sin, as you quoted above (2 Cor 5:21). Now the question is how come Jesus is without sin since he was born of a woman (Mary) like all of us? Remember the Bible also says all born of a woman are sinful (Ps. 51:5, Rom. 5:12). Meaning once you are born a human being…you are sinful. Jesus was born of a woman…therefore Jesus is sinful. Correct? Logically…Yes. But the Bible will say NO….Jesus was born of a woman and yet has no sins. The truth is that all those born of a woman are sinful because of the (sinful) woman. So how come Jesus was born of a woman, like all of us, and yet has no sins? It is because Jesus was born of a (sinless) woman. All men born of a woman are sinful because of the sinful nature of the woman. If Jesus were born of the sinful nature of a woman, he Jesus would have also been sinful like the rest of us. But because Jesus was born of the sinless nature of a woman, that is why the Bible says…Jesus has no sins.

As I stated earlier, the Bible is not a fact-finding book but rather gives us the guide, the formula. Jesus is the formula in this. It is because God didn’t want his Son Jesus to be with sin that is why he God made Jesus’ mother, Mary, a sinless woman. So it is not Mary who has made Jesus sinless, no, but rather, it is Jesus who has made Mary sinless…He is the formula. Because of Jesus God made Mary sinless so that Jesus his Son born of a woman like all of us will have no sins. How do we know? You will not find it black and white in the Bible but the Bible has given us enough formula (Jesus has no sins) for us to calculate why his mother, Mary, has no sins too.

Is this too difficult to accept? If you can accept that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Trinity) though this cannot be found anywhere in the Bible…the biggest Christian belief is not even in the Bible…then this should be no problem. All because…with God nothing is impossible (Lk. 1:37).

God bless you and please pray for me.
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ASK THE CATHOLIC PRIEST CORNER – THE ONE MINUTE QUESTION (04-08-2016)

Question: Please Fr, Philippians 2 verse 12 ends by saying “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. Meanwhile my catechism teaches me that I cannot work for my salvation. Jesus died on the cross to save me inspite of myself, unconditionally. I need help here. And I stand to be corrected if I did not study my catechism well. Thanks (Uche, Lagos)

ANSWER

Thanks for the question. Are you aware that even if your parents pay your school fees for the whole year you still have to pass your exams to be able to stay in the school? And are you aware too that no matter how brilliant you are if you don’t pay your school fees you can’t finish school?

Now what the Catechism is saying is that it is Jesus who has paid your ‘school fees’ of salvation and Phil. 2:12 is also saying you yourself must study then to remain in the school of salvation. So you see they are not contradictory at all…they talk about the same thing in different ways.

Jesus has bought your salvation with his blood…that is paid your school fees of salvation. But you must work out this salvation with fear and trembling…you need to also study hard to remain in this salvation school. Paying the school fees alone is not enough…you must justify yourself to remain in the school of salvation. God has done his part….you must also do your part.

God bless you.
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THE HUMILITY PRAYER

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
Amen

NB:
Composed by an Anonymous Monk
(Daily Prayer of Cardinal Raphael Merry del Val, Cardinal Secretary of State of Pope St Pius X)

PAPER ON CORRUPTION IN GHANA DELIVERED BY ARCHBISHOP PALMER-BUCKLE AT OCCUPYGHANA FORUM

CORRUPTION AND THE HUMAN FACTOR.

MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE FORUM ON CORRUPTION IN GHANA’S NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND PUBLIC LIFE. 

1. Introduction:   Errare humanum est! To err is human!  This is a simple truism about the human being (and consequently of the human race), and yet it is very pregnant with meaning and should be understood in all its depth, if the human person is to be helped to live to the full his/her calling to excellence and to transcend him/herself in a life of virtue.

Of all the creatures on earth, only the human being is capable of either descending lower than even the beasts, or transcending him/herself, excelling to heights even beyond angels.

These capabilities or potentials are all found in the fact that he/she is human, that which was created from the earth and was made a living being when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  In the human person, therefore, are constantly in conflict his/her baser instinct with his/her transcendent self; the earth in battle with the spirit of God, the instinct with the reason.

It is in this perspective that I am making this contribution to this forum on Corruption in Ghana’s National Institutions and Public Life.

May I invite you, Ladies and Gentleman to keep in the back of your minds then the following syllogism!

To err is human.

Corruption is an errant or deviant behaviour.

Therefore, corruption is human!

2. Corruption is human, in fact, it is endemic to human society only and is found in various degrees in every human society.

2.1:    What is corruption?  It is any human act, (and only human act or behavior), that is immoral and therefore considered unacceptable to society as a whole.

2.2:   From its etymology in Latin, co-rumpere means to break into pieces, to destroy or annihilate, also to spoil, mar or make worse, to falsify, to ruin or weaken morally, to damage.

Corruption, therefore, is any human act that is intended to cause or

causes any of the above unhappy results such as destroying,  annihilating, spoiling, marring or making worse, falsifying, ruining or weakening morally, or damaging something, somebody, society or some institution.

In this etymological context, the word corruption embraces an entire spectrum of deviant human behaviour.  However, I believe that the focus of this forum is on that deviant human behaviour that impinges upon the integral development of this nation, be it socially, politically, economically or even culturally and morally.

The following definition from the Transparency International Source Book on National Integrity Systems is more appropriate to this address.  It says “corruption involves behaviour on the part of officials in the public sector, whether politicians or civil servants, in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves, or those close to them, by the misuse of the public power entrusted to them”, (see TI Source Book, Ch. 1 p. 2).

2.3: In ordinary parlance, corruption is often grouped into two or three;

  • petty or survival corruption,
  • big-time corruption, usually involving huge sums of money or other grand considerations, and then there is what is known as
  • political corruption, defined by some as “the illegal, unethical, and unauthorised exploitation of one’s political or official position for personal gain or advantage” (see Gyekye, p. 2).

All three form part of what is commonly known as administrative corruption involving public officials, those entrusted with the administration of any form of public goods.

2.3.1: Petty or Survival Corruption is known in some circles as ordinary corruption, perpetrated by a public official in order to supplement his/her meager salary.  It may involve rather petty sums of money or small considerations.  One may however ask, how small or how petty?  And when does the petty graduate into big-time or grand scale corruption?  And how true is it that such petty corruption is motivated by survival?  Or by poverty?

Could this deviant behaviour not also be caused by greed or by the inordinate desire to live beyond one’s means?

Petty or survival corruption is usually regarded with some compassion and even condoned because the motive –survival– is considered very human; indeed a right to life.

2.3.2: Big-time or grand scale corruption involving huge sums of money or other exorbitant considerations is usually attributed to human greed and selfishness and or even the propensity for power.  Other causes may be the inconsiderate demands on the “big-man” by the extended family members and friends.

2.3.3: In the case of political corruption, the reasons could range from the need to repay loans taken for past electioneering campaigns, the “survival” of the political party and its desire to have enough financial resource either for future elections in order to continue in power, or the sheer greed for money and property in order to indulge in opulent life-styles of persons in political office.

In all these three cases, the reasons given above, whether real or good, are basically human; human in the sense that it is either the instinct for survival, or greed for the goods of life, or the thirst for power and security, propensities which issue from, or are grounded in our human nature.

Certainly every person has a right to life, to food and shelter, to clothing and even to some modicum of comfort and security now and for the future.  Nevertheless, these very human demands do not and must not necessarily give rise to the deviant behaviour of corruption, unless in matters of life and death.

3. Corruption is anti-human:  In fact, in ordinary life, many are the poor persons who do not resort to corrupt practices to make ends meet. So, survival and poverty do not necessarily give rise to corruption in the human being.  The opposite is quite often the case; corruption creates wide-spread poverty.  The poor person is exploited and made to pay twice and three times more for services or goods due him/her where corruption reigns.  In other words, corruption is inhuman, it is anti-human.

Again, invariably it is not the poor who are most corrupt.  It is those way above the margins of poverty, “the big-men” and people in positions of leadership and trust, those whose survival is assured

a hundred times over, who often indulge in corruption and usually in grand style and with a callousness that is inhuman and anti-human if not bestial.  Examples of the Mobutus, the Suhartoes and Marcoses abound even here in Ghana, people motivated by an insatiable greed for wealth and by megalomaniac tendencies, these are the ones who are unleashing poverty and misery on their fellow men and women.  They are ready to see people die as they grab and hoard inordinate wealth.

At work in such characters, unfortunately, is also a very human propensity, that insatiable greed for possessions, power and pleasure, quite difficult to understand, left alone to elicit any reasonable compassion from anybody.  This characteristic is also human, but rather of the baser instinct of the human being.

By the way, just as there are many poor people who are not corrupt, so also it is not every rich person, every “big-man” or every politician that is corrupt or indulging in corrupt practices.  These may be rare, but they are present in our society, unfortunately they are not sufficiently appreciated nor even acknowledged for their integrity and good conduct.

The human propensity for greed, as underlies certain practices of corruption, is what in the human being could be baser and more bestial than even in the beast; for instance, the lion will only kill to satisfy its hunger and innate need to survive. Once that is done, and until it is hungry again, any number of prey may pass within reach and go unharmed.

On the contrary, the human being is capable of amassing wealth to the point of obscenity and with a passion not because of any immediate necessity but often to indulge in an obsession.  Only the human will kill of its own species to indulge in this very inordinate and even inhuman desire.  Corruption is, therefore, not only inhuman and even anti-human, it is also anti-social.  It does not only ruin the individual, it destroys human society.

3.1: Corruption is from our fallen nature: For those who espouse religion, Christian or Islamic, revelation teaches that this inordinate desire of the human being, this anti-human tendency, this anti-social element lies in his/her fallen nature, a sinful nature from which he/she must be redeemed, if he/she is to be free to enjoy life and to transcend, excel and attain his/her nobler self, his/her spiritual calling.

Again, revealed religion teaches that the human being, created in the image and likeness of his Creator, God, is thus endowed with a nobility and the necessary spiritual faculties to enable him/her live up to his/her God-given dignity, and even excel to the heavens.

The human being is, endowed with a will, a conscience and the spiritual strength to resist the downward pull of his/her baser self, and when properly “in-formed” by the right moral education and aided by the grace of God; he/she is capable of turning his/her nature to his/her own good and that of humanity as a whole.  This is what the story of human salvation is all about, helping the human being to become even more human in order to reflect better the image of God in which he/she was created.

3.2: By nature and essentially, the human being is a social being.  Unlike animals, without his/her likes, he/she is doomed to die or to a very warped and even inhuman development.  Therefore, whatever in him/her is anti-social, is a self destructive germ.  Corruption, which is definitely anti-human and anti-social, therefore, a self-destructive germ in the human being, if not eradicated, would ultimately lead to the death of the human being and consequently to the destruction of human society.

This is the very reason why corruption must be combatted and combatted consciously and conscientiously on all fronts; politically, economically, socially, culturally, morally and even spiritually.

Corruption affects his/her whole being and in-forms all his/her activities, his/her personal, political, economic, and social intercourse.  In fact, he/she is a moral being, one who must be in-formed and guided by norms both from within (his/her conscience) and without (by laws and commandments).

4. The Human Factor: This is the reason why in such a forum on corruption in Ghana’s national institutions and public life, the human factor must be understood and taken seriously.  It has the germ of self-destruction as well as of self-transcendence.

4.1: The human need for survival, individually and socially, in terms of the need namely for food, shelter, clothing, for security, companionship and a modicum of comfort now and in the future must be guaranteed by whatever human institutions he/she belongs to, be it the family, the tribe, the place of work or the state.

This is not only a right, it is essential to his/her full growth and proper development into a more enhanced human being, if he/she is not to be tempted to give rein to his/her baser instinct in a bid to cater for unfulfilled legitimate needs, and by so doing, giving rise to various forms of corruption, which will ultimately lead to his/her own destruction as an individual and as a social species.

4.2: Since he/she is a moral being endowed with a conscience and a will (to guide and direct his/her actions), a being endowed with the potential for excellence, he/she would need to be educated in the right sense of the word – “educare” made to blossom and explicate the innate potentials that he/she is made of and attain the excellence to which he/she is called.

This is where the call for a holistic formation is vital, not just civic but also moral and religious in order to inculcate into him/her the beauty of self-discipline and love for that which is virtuous in life, and to shun vice, namely greed, selfishness and all that which is ultimately death-bringing such as corruption.

This calls for a concerted effort in his/her formation by all the actors and stake-holders, beginning from the family, the parents and guardians, the teachers and formators at various levels of life, the Church (in fact all religions) and the State.  It is the well-formed person, one with a strong will and well-informed conscience that can resist the downward drag to greed and the selfish interest of his/her baser self, and open him/herself to the glorious heights and joys of virtue and excellence for the greater good of society.

4.3: All said and done, however, there is the need too, for the good of the same human being and of human society, to put in place a system to guarantee his/her needs as well as safeguard them against threats emanating both from within him/herself and/or from without.  This is where the State comes in to protect the rights and enforce the responsibilities of the human person and society, defending and protecting the weak and poor against the rapaciousness of the strong and powerful.  The State is normally there to protect the poor, not to join in his/her exploitation by the rich and the powerful.

This is the human factor which must not be forgotten in the battle against corruption and in the effort towards a collective plan of action for the creation of a national integrity system.

5. Conclusion:  All what I have been trying to say is this:

To err is human;

corruption is an errant human behaviour;

therefore, corruption is human.

It, therefore, warrants some understanding and even compassion.  Nevertheless, human nature is not, in essence, corrupt.  In fact, corruption, as |I have shown above, is anti-human; corruption is anti-social.  If allowed to spread, corruption will kill/destroy human society for the survival and the greed of just a few individuals.

If corruption is anti-human;

It is then also anti-social.

If corruption brings death to the human,

Then it must be killed before it kills the human being.

This is what we are about; how to cater for his/her basic needs; how to educate him/her to aspire to higher goals and the greater good of human society; and finally how to protect him/her from all forms of threats to him/herself, either from within or from without.

This is a task for all to get involved.  Thank you!

Delivered by:

Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,

Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.

20th November, 2014 @ OccupyGhana

Christ The King, Cantonments

Bibliography :

-National Integrity Systems: The Transparency International Source Book Executive Summary.

-Gyekye Kwame: Political Corruption A philosophical analysis of a moral problem.

WELCOME ADDRESS TO THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE FOR THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 2014 PLENARY ASSEMBLY AT ST. SYLVANUS PARISH, POKUASE ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2014

1. My dear Lord Archbishops and Bishops of Ghana, Your Excellency Most Rev. Jean Marie SPEICH, Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Niimei ke Naamei, Distinguished Invited Guests, my dear People of God in the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, Arise Catholic Faithful!  Rejoice and Renew!

I welcome you, one and all to this Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Plenary Assembly of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  My dear Brothers in the Episcopacy, you are most welcome to the St. Sylvanus Catholic Church which is the northern most parish of the Archdiocese of Accra.

Since last Tuesday evening, you have been our guests at the new SMA Regional Centre in Oshiuman, not too far from here.  And today, I am privileged to welcome you officially to the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, which is coterminous with the Greater Accra Region, plus a small portion of the Volta Region, which is that part of North and South Tongu political districts south-westwards across the Volta River.

I joyfully welcome you also, my dear brother Archbishops and Bishops on behalf of the 300,446 Catholics who make up 7.5% of the population of the Greater Accra Region of 4.01 million, not counting the nearly two and half thousand or more Catholics in the Battor St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church and its outstations, that small portion of the Volta Region across the Volta River.

We are indeed very happy to have you here for the Plenary Assembly of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, because the last such assembly took place about two decades ago in 1994, if I am not mistaken.  And when the next one will be, may not meet some of us living.  We have therefore done our best to make you feel as comfortable as we can.  Enjoy our hospitality and, should we fall short of your expectations, we crave your indulgence.  Please let us know and we shall try hard to remedy the shortfall.

2. Permit me now to give you a quick statistical overview of our Archdiocese:

  • The Catholic Church in Accra was started in 1893 by two SMA Priests; Rev. Fr. Otto HILBERER and Rev. Fr. Eugene RAES.
  • The first Catholic Church in Accra was an old Cocoa shed on the Derby Avenue in Korle Wokon, which was bought and refurbished and consecrated as the Sacred Heart Church in 1925.
  • In 1938 the SMA handed over the pastoral care of Accra and the Eastern Province of the Catholic Church to the SVD (Society of the Divine Word).
  • Accra became a diocese in 1950 with Rev. Fr. Adolf A. NOSER, SVD., appointed its first bishop.  He started the Holy Spirit Cathedral in 1951, and in 1953 he was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Joseph O. BOWERS, SVD., the first bishop of African origin in the Gold Coast, whose mortal remains lie in the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Adabraka-Accra, buried there exactly two years to this day on November 10, 2012.
  • In 1957 Bishop Bowers founded the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer of Accra inter alia; he was succeeded by Most Rev. Dominic K. ANDOH in 1971 as the third bishop of Accra, but also the first Ghanaian bishop of Accra.
  • In 1992 Accra was elevated to a Metropolitan See and the Catholic Diocese of Koforidua was created from it; Bishop Andoh was made the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.   He, it was who hosted the last Plenary Assembly in 1994.  His mortal remains also lie in our Cathedral since last year June 06, 2013.  As you may know, I succeeded him on March 31, 2005.
  • Currently the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra is divided into 6 Deaneries and it has a total of 31 canonically erected Parishes, 40 Rectorates (namely Church communities with resident priests in-charge) and 95 outstations.
  • Serving these Church communities are 104 Archdiocesan Priests:
    • 85 at home
    • 3 in military service
    • 11 on study leave outside
    •  8 fidei donum priests in and outside Ghana
    • 4 incardinated
    • 2 excardinated
    • 2 seeking excardination
    • 2 clerici vagi (priests at large).
  • Other Diocesan Clergy: 22 made up of:
    • 6 National Catholic Secretariat (NCS) Staff
    • 8 St. Paul Regional Seminary Staff
    • 4 Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) from other African countries and
    • 4 in secular institutions from other dioceses in our country.
  • Religious Priests: 74 (from 7 Male Religious Congregations)
  • Religious sisters: 80 (from 15 Female Religious Congregations)
  • 4 Lay Missionaries
  • Catechists: circa 415
    • 7 Full-time
    • 408 Voluntary
  • 31 Minor Seminarians
  • 58 Major Seminarians
    • 23 in Philosophy
    • 35 in Theology.

3.  Our schools and educational institutions are as follows:

  • 197 Public Schools:
    • 129 Basic or First Cycle:

63 Kindergartens

66 Primary Schools

  • 68 Second Cycle:

62 Junior High

6 Senior High

  • 11 Private Schools:
    • 7 Basic including Junior High Schools
    • 3 Secondary & Vocational
    • 1 Tertiary or University College (affiliated to the University of Ghana, Legon)

4.  In terms of healthcare and social support we have:

  • 1 Hospital & 2 Clinics:
  • The Catholic Hospital of Battor (founded in 1959 and run by the Dominican Sisters (OP) of Speyer am Rhein, Germany, now by the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer (HDR Sisters of Accra); it is a government district hospital in the Battor-Aveyime area
  • St. Andrew’s Catholic Clinic of Kordiabeh, a small health facility in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra Region about 10 years old run by Sisters of the Congregation of the Holy Family (CHF) from India, and
  • St. John of God Clinic (a Health Centre) just about beginning on the outskirts of Accra, entrusted to the Hospitaller Order of Brothers of St. John of God (OH a.k.a. Fatebene Fratelli).
  • 10 Catholic Archdiocesan Social (Services ) and Support (CASAS):
    • Ancilla Women Development and Rehabilitation Center run by the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus Sisters (HHCJ Sisters)
    • Catholic Action for Street Children (CAS) run by the Brothers of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (FIC Brothers)
    • Center of Hope for persons with HIV-AIDS run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)
    • City of God Project started by the Franciscan Friars for slum-dwellers in the city center of Accra, now run by the Archdiocese
    • Lepers Aid Committee, an NGO founded by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) for the care of lepers and cured lepers in Ghana
    • Hope for Life; an association for people who are physically challenged by different handicaps in life; it is run by the Society of African Missions (SMA)
    • Missionaries of Charity Home run by the Sisters of Mother Theresa of Calcutta for the destitute and homeless in Accra and Tema
    • Help Aged Centers by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of the Archdiocese currently being run by the HDR Sisters and some lay members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
    • First Contact Place and Dominic Savio Centera Refuge for displaced and disoriented youth in the Tema metropolis run by the Salesians of Don Bosco
    • House of St. Francis run by the Archdiocese directly in collaboration with Hopeful Way, an international NGO for assisting persons with drug and alcohol dependencies to quit these habits.

5.  My dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, I hope I have not bored you with these pieces of information. But it was only to let you know something of what we are doing to bring pastoral care to the over four million people that live here in the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, especially in the two metropolises of Accra and Tema.  These services are some of the ways we are trying to cater to the challenges of the New Evangelization for the transmission of the Christian Faith here in our Archdiocese.

Yesterday, I know you had the first-hand experience of some of our parish communities and I am sure you met many people who hail from your own Archdioceses and Dioceses.  This is the Archdiocese of Accra, it is very cosmopolitan and truly Catholic.

My Clergy and Religious and I cannot but thank you for ministering to our and your Church members.  May your short stay in our Archdiocese open the heavens for God to pour out his graces and blessings abundantly upon our Church here as we prepare for our 125th Anniversary of Catholic Mission in Accra scheduled for 2018, God willing.  May I take this opportunity to invite you already to the celebrations!  God bless you, my dear brothers and Lord Archbishops and Bishops of Ghana.

Arise Catholic Faithful!  Rejoice and Renew!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!  Thy Kingdom come!

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!

Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,

Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra. 

COMMUNIQUE OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE 2014 PLENARY ASSEMBLY HELD AT OSHIUMAN, ACCRA (4TH TO 15TH NOVEMBER, 2014)

Theme: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”

Greetings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ and all people of goodwill who live in our land, grace and peace of God the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its true name be with you! (Eph. 3:15).

We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, meeting in our 2014 Annual Plenary Assembly in Oshiuman, Accra, from 4th to 15th November, 2014, send you our greetings of peace and blessing.

Gratitude

We give thanks to God for His grace and mercies for guiding us through the events of the past year during which as a Church we successfully organised a Second National Pastoral Congress in Sunyani to chart a new path of evangelisation for our Church’s mission in Ghana. We also recall with gratitude to God our successful Ad Limina Visit to Rome this year during which we met the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to give an account of our stewardship. These graces of God to the Church, coupled with the fact that our country, Ghana, continues to enjoy peace and good will among the comity of nations, invite us to give praise to God. We encourage all citizens to continue to seek the face of God and offer fervent prayers for our dear Nation and the Church.

Theme of this year’s Plenary

The theme of this year’s plenary Assembly is, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”. This theme was inspired by the just-ended Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family held in Rome, from 5th to 19th October, 2014 to consider the pastoral challenges that the family faces today. Our deliberations on this theme were preceded by four days of prayer and reflection, at the end of which we wish to present to you and to the good people of Ghana and the world at large the following pertinent teachings on the family.

The Church’s Teaching on the Family

The Church’s perennial and unchanging teaching on the family is based on the nature of man but especially on Scripture and Sacred Tradition namely, that God ordained marriage to be between man and woman, when “God made them male and female and blessed them”. God also intended marriage to be open to life when, “He blessed them and said increase and multiply” (Gen. 1:27-28). Furthermore, God determined marriage to be indissoluble as Jesus affirmed, “What therefore God has put together, let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).

The Church’s consistent teaching on the importance of marriage and family life as revealed in Sacred Scripture is also emphasised in the Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes (GS), for instance, speaks about the dignity of marriage and family life (cf. GS 47-52), defining marriage as a community of life and love and placing love at the nucleus of the family (Eph. 5:25).

God the Creator, by forming the first man and woman and commanding them to be fruitful and to multiply (Gen. 1:28) definitively established the family to be a permanent union between one man and one woman. Consequently, the family becomes the sanctuary where life is born, nurtured and welcomed as a gift of God. By matrimonial covenant which the Lord Jesus raised to the dignity of a sacrament, a man and a woman come together to establish between themselves a relationship of love which by its very nature is ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. This covenant of love consequently takes the character and effect of unity, indissolubility, fidelity and openness to life. Marital love also requires the fidelity of the spouses flowing from the gift of oneself to one’s lawful spouse (cf. Eph. 5:32).

Church as Family of God

The Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa (The Church in Africa) adopted a new image of the Church: Church-family of God (Ecclesia in Africa, 63). This image emphasizes our common origin and destiny as Children of God (Eph. 3:14). The African cherishes the family as the fundamental base of humanity and of society. As a family, respect, sense of belonging and care for one another are our values. Like the African family, the Church always aims at building up her members, to uphold her image and reinforce her values of care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust (Ecclesia in Africa, 63). This explains why the Church is appreciated as a gift from God given to building the Kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace here on earth and in Ghana (Africae Munus 7).

The Family as Subject of Evangelisation

The Fathers of Vatican II rightly noted that evangelisation first takes place in the family, as parents “by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children” (Lumen Gentium 11). It is in the family that children first learn about God, love of neighbour and the Church. As such, parents are indispensable in sharing the faith with their children. Parents are to assist children to make the appropriate choices at the different stages of their lives.

Challenges of the Family

Today, the family is undergoing significant challenges that rock the very foundation on which God has set the human society. These crises manifest themselves in very many ways.

Philosophy of Relativism and the Family

We are witnessing today the emergence of a new reality that defines man as a free individual with the license to do whatever she/he pleases. Unfortunately, this reality has crept into the traditional Christian concept of the family, redefining marriage to be a free union between any two people who are attracted to each other whether they are of the same sex or not. The new reality exhorts humans to give free expression to their sexual feelings in all manner of ways. Some people suppress the words, “husband” and “wife,” “father” and “mother” in favour of words such as “partner”, “companion”, etc. The attempted redefinition of these words distorts and clouds the true meaning of marriage.

Negative Media Portrait of Marriage

The media has become a major source of influence in the way young people conceive marriage. They amplify failing and failed relationships between males and females and further celebrate their separation. Ghanaian young people continually keep themselves updated on the marital mishaps of celebrities, get exposed to explicit immoral scenes in movies and the internet and come to associate human sexuality with a certain casualness and irresponsible experimentation. It therefore makes it easy to treat one’s partner merely as an object of self-gratification. Regrettably, the many good examples of faithful couples are either ignored or not reported by the media.

Infidelity of Couples

Some Christian men and women, especially those who indulge in casual and pre-marital sex, do not develop the critical awareness of their changed status once they get married. They continue to maintain sexual relations with other men and women outside their marriage. Such betrayal often leads to the break-up of many marriages.

Domestic Violence in Marriage

Domestic violence is a real issue in many Ghanaian homes and is suffered by both men and women. While some wives are battered into silence and therefore live in perpetual fear of their husbands, some husbands are also unable to come home after work for fear of their wives. This often leads some men and women into alcoholism and some enter into amorous relationships with other women and men. The work place, the market and even at times, the Church, have become the refuge for some men and women escaping the hazards of domestic violence. In some cases, innocent children and house helps fall victim to this violence.

Pressures on Marriage and Families

Many a couple has challenges with building their lives together in intimate relationship due to pressures of work. The phenomenon where couples are regularly absent from the marital home due to work and education does not help in the stability of the marriage. Children become the ultimate victims in the event of divorce. Furthermore, demands from either partner’s family for assistance most often incur the displeasure of the other spouse. Some husbands and wives find it difficult relating well to the families of their spouses. This often creates resentment and may lead to divorce.

In addition, when marriage has been for some time without children, there is always pressure brought to bear on the man but most often on the woman. For many Ghanaian communities, it is only when a child is born to the couple that the marriage is seen as consolidated and no explanation to the contrary is good enough. In some extreme cases, some women, unable to bear the pressure are actually known to have allowed their husbands to marry another woman and get children by her. Such arrangements apart from being wrong and opposed to the teaching on Christian family often result in disaster and tragedy.

Inequality in Marriage

Ghanaian Christians have to be educated out of their belief in the inequality of husband and wife. Most of us in Ghana live in male-dominated societies which believe in the superiority of the man over the woman. As such, the Christian doctrine on the equality of husband and wife is a teaching that some find difficult to accept. The traditional Ghanaian male believes that the woman is inferior to the man in marriage. We observe the phenomenon of polygamy among our Christian faithful as some men prefer to marry more than one woman. This is due to the Ghanaian culture which seems to condone polygamy. These notions are wrong and ought to change.

Bridewealth in Marriage

The issue of bridewealth (also known in some societies as dowry) and its significance for marriages also needs to be addressed. Even though most Christians would not accept the complete abolition of the bridewealth because of its significance for the stability of the marriage, we must do away with the excesses that are making it difficult for poor people to marry. Furthermore, one cannot deny completely the fact that the payment of the bridewealth in some cultures is partially to blame for the low place we give the woman in her marital home and the society at large. An effective evangelisation of our Christian families will base family life on the love that bonds the couple together and not on the bridewealth.

Cohabitation/Concubinage

We bemoan the practice of cohabitation or concubinage in which couples that have performed the customary marriage see no need to go ahead to regularise their marriages. We call for an end to this practice. Reasons such as the need to study each other, lack of funds to celebrate the marriage, among others, do not hold any significance. For in such a practice, not only do the couples fail to make God the centre of their marriages but they also cut themselves off from the Eucharist as the source of their spiritual sustenance.

Socio-political Challenges to the Family

What compounds these challenges to the family are other serious socio-economic and political problems in our society. Our beloved country, Ghana as a family is beset with the nagging problem of polarization along political and tribal lines. We experience the politicisation of almost every national issue, and a growing religious and political intolerance. We see also the lack of the fear of God and ostentation in our body politic and social fabric. There is deceit, commercialization of religion and the “hijacking” of some religious and opinion leaders to divide and rule the society. All of these are bad examples for our children and youth. That is why we strongly deplore this state of affairs in our nation and urge all Ghanaians to desist from them and come together to address these evils.

We also deplore in no uncertain terms a radical and faceless culture of death which promotes among other things the supply and use of the condom in our schools, the in vitro fertilization and the contraception agenda of some national and international institutions in Ghana. Painfully, some Ghanaian homosexual and pro-abortion groups, and even our Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection overtly and subtly support these international organizations. We wish to draw the attention of all Ghanaians to this dangerous “culture of death” being imposed on us and call on all Ghanaians to forcefully reject this so-called freedom which indeed is suicidal. Further, we urge those who represent Ghana at the United Nations and other such bodies to realise that these practices are culturally abominable and morally and spiritually reprehensible. We therefore urge them to refrain from endorsing such disastrous protocols on our behalf. Whenever they do sign such protocols, they betray the trust the good people of Ghana have vested in them. We are to remind ourselves of the well known fact that a nation that kills its unborn babies has no future.

Ghana’s Economy and the family

The current state of the Ghanaian economy is of concern to all of us and affects the family adversely. We are witnessing a consistent high cost of living, hyper-inflation, a depreciating cedi and high cost of goods and services. We bemoan the fact that Ghana’s economy is fast becoming one of “buying and selling.” Unbearably high taxes are causing many nascent private businesses to fold up. At the same time, we are not seeing aggressive efforts to set up more industries to take care of rising youth unemployment and low levels of development. We join our voices to those of the many Ghanaians who disapprove of the importation of furniture from China for our Parliament when made-in-Ghana furniture could have been patronized to boost the furniture industry and the economy as a whole. Economic practices such as these, impact negatively on most families, leading to despair, poverty, sense of abandonment and marginalization. They threaten the stability of families making it difficult for them to actually live out their expectations as Christian families.

We note the various efforts of government, aimed at improving the economy, including the ongoing discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Senchi Consensus. We can only hope that these interventions will lead to economic transformation that will arrest the rising spate of youth unemployment and low levels of development. We pray that our own home-grown economic policies such as those implemented under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Authority (GYEEDA) and the Youth Enterprise Support (YES) may be led by qualified and competent persons. These policies should be given the utmost priority over externally-funded support programmes. Our experience is that externally-funded economic interventions almost always lead to unbearable consequences on citizens.

Corruption and the Family

We have time and again spoken about the twin-evil of bribery and corruption in Ghana but we regret to note that these evils continue to ravage every fabric of the Ghanaian society. Present-day Ghana is openly and pervasively corrupt. People at all levels of society, including some Christians, are engaged in naked corruption with impunity. We commend the Government for the recent prosecution of some high level personalities in government and for setting up various Commissions of enquiry into alleged corrupt practices at high levels. We do think, however, that our Government could do more to nip this canker in the bud. Certainly, individuals and private businesses should do their part to end corruption in our country. Reports of corruption from the media and on-going national commissions of enquiry such as the Judgment Debts, GYEEDA and SADA, National Service Scheme and the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as allegations of corruption in CHRAJ are worrying. We decry the mismanagement and apparent failure of these programmes and institutions and call on Government to do all it can to ensure that they deliver on their mandate. We also expect Government to act without fear or favour in dealing with those who will be found culpable in the reports of the on-going investigations.

We urge the financial institutions, especially the banks, to beware of money laundering and the reported cases of cheating unsuspecting clients by some unscrupulous workers in the banks and financial institutions. We appeal to the Bank of Ghana to come to the aid of all those who loose their monies through some failed microfinance institutions.

Greed breeds hard-heartedness, theft, blackmail, bribery and corruption and even murder. Corruption encourages and condones incompetence, mediocrity at work and disrespect for higher authority as well as unnecessary bureaucracy. It drives away investment and leads to unnecessary suffering and poverty. We therefore call on all Ghanaians to make a serious self-examination of conscience concerning bribery and corruption and repent. We must all resolve from today never to engage in acts of bribery and corruption or condone the same.

Road Accidents and the Family

We have observed with growing concern the increasing rate of preventable fatal accidents on our roads. Roads in many parts of the country are deplorable and those in better shape are not properly marked or sign-posted. According to the national Roads Safety Commission in 2013, about two thousand people lost their lives in road and transport accidents. The trend for this year suggests that we may exceed this figure by the end of the year if we do not make immediate and radical changes in the way we use our roads. The lasting trauma and the other untold hardships to the bereaved families are obvious. The country in turn loses its precious citizens and becomes poorer.

We therefore urge all Ghanaians, especially transport owners, all drivers and other road users, as a matter of urgency, to exercise maximum vigilance and abide by all road and transport regulations. Passengers and pedestrians should protest, and try to restrain and report all drivers who drive carelessly to the appropriate authorities. Further, we urge all our priests and ministers of other religions to use the pulpit to educate and remind their followers about the do’s and don’ts on our roads. All in Ghana need to know that the fatal accidents on our roads are neither the will of God for us nor due to our destiny. Rather, they are the result of our own carelessness and indiscipline. God has given us the responsibility to prevent these accidents from happening.

Strike Actions and the Family

As Pastors of God’s people, we cannot remain unconcerned about the spate of strike actions which have hit our country recently. We wish to call on the Government and Organised Labour to always use dialogue and negotiations in dealing with labour disputes and agitations. We are prepared to play a mediation role in the resolution of the ongoing impasse among the parties.

The Threat of Ebola, Cholera and the Family

We regret that the Ebola Viral Disease which has hit the West African region, especially Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, has so far claimed more than 5,000 lives. We pray for the families which have lost their loved ones and ask that intensive prayers be offered for an end to this scourge, even as we urge all Ghanaians to continue to observe all health safety precautions and to refer to and abide by the instructions we issued on the Ebola disease just last August. On cholera, we urge the continued observance of hygienic conditions to completely deal with it and prevent its recurrence. We appeal to all Ghanaians to take seriously the directives by the Ministry of Health on how to prevent these diseases.

New Policy Considerations in Education and the Family

We learn that the Ministry of Education is in the process of proposing a new consolidated bill on Education which aims at effectively decentralizing education service delivery and management. We are not opposed to education reforms but feel the need for broad-based consultation on such reforms, especially with all major stakeholders including the Church. Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have the most natural and divine obligation to educate their children in schools and institutions of their choice. This inalienable right has been significantly usurped by the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS), a system we continue to decry for reasons many Ghanaians are beginning to understand. Parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. We therefore call on Government to be transparent on any on-going policy considerations on education reforms. We urge the Government to expedite action on the formalization of the Partnership Agreement on Education submitted by Religious and Other Bodies whose schools are in the public system.

Some Pastoral Recommendations for Marriage and Family Life

In the face of these and other formidable challenges to the family and our society, we, your Pastors exhort you our Faithful to be responsible citizens and to be loyal to what Scripture and the Church teach about the family and marriage.

Given the demands of married life, we exhort all who are called by God to this vocation to prepare themselves adequately. We call on the National Catechetical Commission to develop a structured and sustained programme of on-going formation for prospective and married couples.

We encourage the formation of Christian Family Movements to promote Christian marriage. Further, we propose a Family Week to be celebrated annually and we urge all Priests, Religious and Laity to observe this week as such. We equally call on our priests and religious to recognize that home visitation to families is part of their ordinary pastoral duties. We urge all Parishes and Dioceses to create occasions for the unmarried, especially the youth, to come together for retreats, workshops etc., to prepare for their life’s vocations.

Formators in our major seminaries and other formation houses should continue to deepen candidates’ knowledge in marriage and family life, while priests and religious in the field should equip themselves with periodic on-going pastoral formation and study sessions to keep abreast of Church teaching on marriage.

We ask the whole Church to show special love and attention to childless couples. The marriages of spouses to whom God has not granted children should radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality and of sacrifice.

Commendation of Faithful Couples and Families

We, your Shepherds, commend the good work of all faithful couples who witness to family values inspired by the Gospel in spite of the many challenges. We call on all pastoral agents to give special attention to the family in their ministry, especially to families in distress. Let all parents and guardians take their responsibility more seriously, mindful of the fact that they are the very first agents of the human and religious formation of their families and society at large. As your Pastors, we pledge to continue to work with our pastoral agents and the State to ensure that the fundamental human values, such as belief in God, the respect for life, the virtues of sincerity, honesty and hard work, are acquired first from the home.

Conclusion

The Church will continue to proclaim the unwavering truth that monogamy is what God has ordained and that polygamy is contrary to conjugal love and incompatible with the unity of marriage. She will continue to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman and not people of the same sex. The Church will also continue to teach that divorce from a living and lawful spouse is not permitted by the Church because it separates what God has joined together. She suffers with those who are not admitted to communion due to their marital status and will continue to journey with them in the faith to encourage them not to despair.

It is without doubt that the family of today faces formidable pastoral and socio-economic challenges which threaten its fundamental role as the basic unit of society and the Church. We your Pastors assure all families of our encouragement and prayers in the face of these challenges. We call on all Christians and people of goodwill to continue to be strong and committed to the family.

May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, continue to intercede for all families and for all of us. May the God of all consolation and peace fill you with His grace and peace (1 Cor. 1:3).
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG &
PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE

OPENING ADDRESS OF THE 2014 PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE HELD AT OSHIUMAN, ACCRA (4-15 NOV. 2014)

Salutation

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:3 RSV)

Preamble

I thank you all for the opportunity to address these few words to you as we, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, gather here in Accra for our 2014 Annual Plenary Assembly. Let me begin my address by thanking the host bishop and our venerable brother in the episcopate, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, for the warm reception and hospitality accorded us and for the pleasant and congenial environment in which we are holding our Plenary.

We are most grateful also to the SMA Regional Superior and the Society of African Missions in Ghana for giving us the opportunity to hold the first-ever meeting in their newly-constructed Regional House at Oshiuman. We assure them that we will take good care of the facility and leave a lot of blessings behind. We are most grateful.

Accra Archdiocese – Parish Visitation and Anniversaries

We wish to thank you all for the opportunity you gave us yesterday to celebrate Mass with you in the various parishes in the Archdiocese. Even though our Secretariat is located here in Accra and so we often visit the capital city for our meetings, we have not had the opportunity to visit many of your parishes. Our visits yesterday to the various parishes have, therefore, given us a very good idea of the Archdiocese and the Greater Accra Region, which has a lot of human, spiritual and pastoral potential. We thank you for this opportunity.

Last year, the Archdiocese of Accra celebrated its 120th Anniversary under the theme, “120 Years of Catholic Mission: Honouring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Building the Future”. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, also celebrated 20 years in the Episcopal ministry. The Bishops’ Conference would like to congratulate him and the People of God in the Archdiocese of Accra and we pray that the Archdiocese will grow numerically and spiritually in the years to come. To our venerable brother and colleague, we say congratulations! We pray that the good Lord will continue to bless him and make his ministry ever more fruitful. Ad Multos Annos!

Theme of the Plenary

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, when we meet in plenary session each year, we deliberate on the welfare of the Church and the nation as well, and for this purpose, we choose a theme every year for the Plenary. During our last Plenary Assembly in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, we discussed the theme: “The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith in Ghana in the Light of Africae Munus”. At the end of the Plenary, we issued a communiqué which touched on various issues of national and ecclesiastical importance.

For this year, the theme that we have chosen is: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”, which was also the theme of the just-ended Synod of Bishops in Rome. During the next few days, we will be deliberating on this theme and at the end of our deliberations, we will issue a communiqué reflecting our discussion of the theme. I will return to this topic later in this address.

Situational Profile of the Conference, November 2013 to November 2014

Please permit me now to give you a brief Situational Report on the Conference over the past one year.

Current State of the Hierarchy of the Church

At the time of our Plenary in Sunyani last year, the Bishops’ Conference comprised 14 bishops and four archbishops. In addition, there were three retired archbishops. On 3 July this year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, appointed Monsignor John Bonaventure Kwofie as the new bishop of Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese. He was ordained a bishop on 13 September, 2014, and is the latest addition to the Conference. We congratulate him once again on his appointment as bishop and welcome him into the Conference.

At the moment, we have 19 active bishops made up of 4 archbishops, 14 bishops and 1 Apostolic Vicar. In addition we have three retired archbishops. Presently, only the Diocese of Obuasi is without a bishop and is being shepherded by Most Rev. Gabriel Anokye of Kumasi, the Apostolic Administrator. We are optimistic that a bishop will soon be appointed for the Diocese of Obuasi.

Apostolic Nunciature

Following the assumption of office by the current Nuncio to Ghana, His Excellency Jean Marie Speich, the Secretary to the Nunciature, Very Rev. Fr. Cosma Ambrosini, was transferred to Cameroun after a five-year duty tour in Ghana. The vacancy has been filled since 25 September, 2014 filled by Very Rev. Fr. Gildardo Marin Acevedo. We take this opportunity to welcome Fr. Acevedo to Ghana and to wish him a happy stay and a joyful duty tour.

Engagement with the Temporal Order

Meeting with the Minister of Education.

A delegation of bishops paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Education, Hon. Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, in July this year to discuss issues relating to education in the country, especially the Memorandum of Understanding on the Education Partnership between the State and Faith-Based Organisations. We are glad to report that we have gone far with the document on the Partnership Agreement and we are hopeful that in the not too distant future this document will be approved by the Government through the Ministry of Education to guide the education partnership arrangement between the State and Church for the good of education service delivery in Ghana.

Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office

The Bishops’ Conference launched the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) on 23 October, 2013 in Accra, to facilitate contact and dialogue between the Church on one hand and the country’s Legislature and Executive on the other and to provide an avenue for the Church to influence public policy for the common good in areas of political, economic and social concerns.

At the moment, we are taking steps to appoint staff to man the Office, as we await the official accreditation of the office by Parliament.

Bishops’ Conference Meeting with Catholic Parliamentarians

A six-member delegation of the Bishops’ Conference met with some Catholic members of Parliament on 23 July, 2014. This was the fourth time we had met with Catholic Parliamentarians. The meeting, which was preceded by the celebration of Holy Mass, discussed important national issues such as the Constitution Review Process, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Ebola Viral Disease, corruption in the country, the Plant Breeders’ Bill, etc.

Another meeting has been scheduled for December this year. Through such regular dialogues and interaction, we hope to journey with our Catholic politicians to help them to live their faith in the political sphere.

Some Important Church Matters

The Second National Pastoral Congress, Sunyani

The Bishops’ Conference took a decision to hold a Second National Pastoral Congress during its Plenary Assembly held in Koforidua in November 2012. This Congress took place in Sunyani from 5 to 11August 2014 under the theme, “The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith in Ghana in the Light of Africae Munus”. In all, there were 270 Congress delegates made up of bishops, priests, religious and laity. The Congress discussed the theme and sub-themes and made useful recommendations on how to carry out the mission of the New Evangelisation in Ghana.

At this Plenary Assembly, we will discuss and approve the Pastoral Guidelines drafted from the talks, discussions, reports and recommendations of the Congress for implementation in all dioceses and archdioceses. We encourage all Catholics in Ghana to brace themselves up for the implementation of these Pastoral Guidelines.

Bishops’ Ad Limina Visit to Rome, 20-27 September, 2014

The members of the Bishops’ Conference made an Ad Limina Visit to Rome this year, from 20 to 27 September 2014. The visit enabled us to give an account of our stewardship of the archdioceses and dioceses entrusted to our pastoral care to the Holy Father. We also had the opportunity to seek the Pope’s wise counsel for the administration of our dioceses and archdioceses.

In the course of the visit, we also interacted with officials of the Roman Curia and celebrated Mass with Cardinal Peter Turkson in his titular Church of St. Liborio in Rome. The Ghanaian Catholic Community in Rome, Ghana’s Ambassador to the Vatican, His Excellency Sir James Bebaako-Mensah and Ghana’s Ambassador to Italy, Her Excellency Mrs. Evelyn Anita Stokes-Hayford, attended this Mass.

The Ad Limina visit was a moment of grace and blessing. The Pope assured us of his prayers and asked us to extend his warmest greetings and apostolic blessings to the Church and the People of Ghana. We also assured him of our prayers and invited him to visit Ghana. We pray that he will honour our invitation.

Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome

As you may be aware, the Pope convened an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome from 5 to 19 October on the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”. Ghana was represented at the Synod by the President of the Conference. The discussions at the Synod were lively, animated, open and inspiring. The General Secretariat of the Synod will circulate the draft document containing the conclusions reached at the Synod for a more thorough discussion in all dioceses and archdioceses around the world. The outcome of these discussions will then be examined at the next Ordinary Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome in October next year. We encourage all Ghanaian Catholics to accompany this process with their prayers.

Reflection on the Theme of the 2014 Plenary Assembly

As I have already indicated, the theme for this year’s Plenary is, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”. We, the bishops of Ghana, chose this theme for our Plenary this year at the end of the 2013 Plenary Assembly held in Sunyani to deliberate on the best pastoral approach to adopt as a Local Church to handle the numerous challenges faced by the family in the context of Ghana in particular and Africa in general.

At the just-ended Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome, the Synod Fathers discussed the meaning of family today, the values of the family, the challenges of marriage and family life and the Church’s response to issues of family and marriage in contemporary society. The Synod affirmed that the traditional teaching of the Church on the family as contained in Scripture and in the Church’s Magisterium should be upheld at all times so that the family can continue its role as the vital cell of society while playing a useful role in the Church’s New Evangelisation.

At this plenary, we will examine the meaning of the family as the vital building block of society and the ecclesiastical community and the role of the family as the sanctuary where life is born, nurtured and welcomed as a gift and as a community of life and love. We will look at the role that the family can play in the New Evangelisation as a place where the gospel is transmitted and from which the gospel radiates.

The family can and does play a vital role in both the Church and society. But today, it is undergoing a real crisis characterized by urban economic pressures, financial burdens, marital infidelity, sexual promiscuity, the secular philosophy of relativism – all of which is putting the stability of society at risk. It is, therefore, urgent, as part of our Christian duty, that we engage in a more careful pastoral reflection on the Family to let the right understanding of it influence whatever decision we take regarding the family.

I am hopeful that our reflection on the chosen theme will help us to address the needs of our Catholic faithful with regard to such questions as the indissolubility of marriage, the prohibition on the use of artificial contraceptives, the issue of cohabitation, divorce and re-marriage and the sacraments, etc. At the end of our Conference, we hope to come out with concrete and practical recommendations on how the Church and the Ghanaian society as a whole can resolve the problems surrounding family and marriage so that the family can play its role as intended by God – the source of all life.

Conclusion

On this note, I would like to wish the Conference a successful and fruitful Plenary. I pray that the good Lord will continue to inspire and enlighten the Church so that it will always be an effective instrument for the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ and the transformation of society.

My Lord Chairman, my Lord Archbishops and Bishops, ladies and gentlemen, I now have the singular honour and privilege of declaring this Plenary Assembly of the year 2014 duly and formally opened. Thank you and may God bless you all!

BY
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
PRESIDENT GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE
AND BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG

CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF GHANA IN ACCRA FOR 2014 PLENARY ASSEMBLY – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

All the twenty (20) Arch/Bishops of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC), including the Apostolic Nuncio, are meeting in Accra for their 2014 Plenary Assembly. The three (3) Emeriti Archbishops are also attending. The Plenary Assembly is an annual meeting of the Catholic Bishops to evaluate the activities of the Catholic Church in Ghana over the past year and to plan for the future. The 2014 Plenary Assembly, being held in Accra, is under the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of the New Evangelization”, and runs from 4th – 15th November 2014. Venue is the SMA Regional House, Oshiuman, Accra. The last time Accra hosted this event was 20 years ago in 1994.

Some Highlights of the Plenary:

4th Nov – Arrival

5th – 8th Nov – Retreat for the Bishops

9th Nov – Visits to Parishes (selected)

10th Nov – Opening Ceremony, St. Sylvanus – Pokuase

11th – 14th Nov – Meetings/Sessions

14th Nov – Closing Ceremony, HSC – Adabraka

15th Nov – Departure

OPENING CEREMONY

The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 GCBC Plenary Assembly would be held at the St. Sylvanus Parish, Pokuase on Monday, 10th November 2014 at 9:30am. All Catholics in the Archdiocese and the general public are invited to the ceremony. Attire is the 120th Anniversary Cloth (those who have).

CLOSING MASS

The Closing Mass to end the 2014 GCBC Plenary Assembly would be held at the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Adabraka on Friday, 14th November 2014 at 6:00pm. Again all Catholics in the Archdiocese are expected to attend. Attire is the 120th Anniversary Cloth (those who have).

Come and be part of history. Remember the next time this event would be held again in Accra would some 20+ years time. Be there. God bless you

PARISHES TO HAVE BISHOPS THIS SUNDAY

As part of the Plenary Assembly of the GCBC, the Arch/Bishops of Ghana will visit the ff. parishes/churches in Accra for Mass on Sunday, 9th November 2014:

Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu – St. Peter, Ngleshie-Amanfro

Archbishop Matthias Nketsiah – Martyrs of Uganda, Mamprobi

Bishop Gabriel Kumordji, SVD – St. Raphael the Archangel, Lashibi

Bishop Vincent Boi-Nai, SVD – St. Peter, Tema – New Town

Bishop Joseph Essien – St. Michael, Michel Camp

Bishop Anthony Adanuty – St. John Bosco, Tema – Golf City

Bishop Peter Atuahene – St. Anthony, Nungua

Archbishop Philip Naameh – Divine Mercy, Okponglo

Bishop Joseph Afrifah-Agyekum – St. Maurice, La

Archbishop Gabriel Anokye – Blessed Sacrament, Abelenkpe

Bishop Francis Lodonu – St. Sylvanus, Pokuase

Bishop Peter Paul Angkyier – St. Francis Xavier, Kotobabi

Archbishop Peter Sarpong – Holy Family, Oshiuman

Bishop Gabriel Mante – Holy Rosary, Adenta

Bishop John Kwofie, CSSp – St. Barnabas, Haatso-Agbogba

Bishop Paul Bemile – St. Francis of Assisi, Ashale Botwe

Bishop Dominic Yeboah Nyarko – St. John the Baptist, Odorkor

Archbishop Thomas Mensah – St. Stephen, Darkuman

Bishop Alfred Agyenta – St. Charles Lwanga, Abeka

Bishop Matthew Gyamfi – St. Francis of Assisi, Awoshie

Please offer special daily prayers for our Bishops and for the success of the Plenary. May God bless the GCBC. May God bless our dear nation Ghana. Amen

WHY WE PRAY THE MEMORARE

This is a prayer from the Bible. It is taken from John 2:1-11; the Wedding Feast of Cana story where through Mary’s intercession Jesus turned water into wine. Mary did not despised the prayer of the couple that they had no wine. That was their time of necessity and she knew it. Mary went to Jesus and told him their problem. And Jesus listened. In the same way, in this prayer we ask Mary to do the same for us. Not to overlook our prayers for help because no one went to her and was left “unhelped” or unaided. If Mary does not over look your prayers then you can be sure Jesus will hear them because she will make sure they get to Jesus; she will take them to Jesus for you. So the prayer does not make Mary ‘God’ at all. This is what Mary does for all those whose wines are finished in life, those who have no source of hope. That is why the prayer begins with the word “Remember” (Memorare in Latin). We are asking Mary to ‘Remember’ her special role she plays in our prayers, in our times of need. She should ‘Remember’ what she did for others in the Bible and remember us too. And like in John 2:1, wherever Mary is invited, Jesus is also invited. What a blessing to have the Mother of God present at your prayers because her son, Jesus will also be present. No one goes to Mary and receives no help or ask her to intercede for them and was left unanswered. It has never happened before (John 2:5) and will never happen because Mary REMEMBERS.This is what we say and mean when we say the prayer…”Remember oh most gracious Virgin Mary…” God bless you and please pray for me