The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) on Wednesday February 12, 2020, held a meeting with the Catholic Parliamentarians caucus to deliberate on relevant issues confronting the church and the nation.
The Bishops were led to parliament by its Vice President, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palma-Buckle, Archbishop of Cape-Coast.
Present were Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie, Bishop of Obuasi, Most Rev.John Yaw Afoakwa, SVD Vicar Apostolic of Donkorkrom, Most Rev. John Alphonse Asiedu, Most Rev. Mathew Kwesi Gyamfi, Bishop of Sunyani, Secretary General of the National Catholic Secretariat, Very Rev. Fr Lazarus Anondee, and other Priests from the National Catholic Secretariat.
The Catholic MPs present were Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for Bekwei, Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for Nandowli/Kaleo, Joseph Yele-Chire, MP Wa West, Hon. Dr Francis Dakura, MP for Jirapa, Hon. Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery, MP for Lambusie, Hon Michael Yaw Gyato, MP for Krachi East and Hon Dominic Napare, MP for Sene East.
The rest of the MPs were Hon Betty Efua Krosbi Mensah, MP for Afram Plains North, Hon. George Nenyi Andah, MP for Awutu-Senya West, Nana Agyemang Birikorang, Dean of Parliamentary Press Corps, some members of the Parliamentary Press Corps as well as some staff of parliament.
The discussing which preceded with a Holy Mass, centered on the Spiritual growth of the Catholic MPs, their roles and contribution to the Church and the need for them to carry the Catholic political and social norms in parliament.
The Bishops also discussed national issues regarding the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Illegal Mining (Galamsey) menace, Political Vigilante groups, the Voter Register and the December 7, General elections.
Other national issues discussed were youth unemployment, Financial sector reforms, Free Senior High School policy, Fight Against Corruption, Abandoned and Unfinished government projects, Deplorable roads, Comprehensive Sexuality Education , Economic growth, poverty and inequality.
Bishop John Aseidu said, the Bishops conference at its Annual Plenary Assembly observed that, weak and ineffective state institutions is affecting development and putting democracy at risk as many citizens lose interest in politics and believed democracy is not working.
“The inability of state institutions to effectively address issues such as Chieftaincy disputes, implementation of public policies, lack of political will to crack the whip in dealing with crime and corruption, over politicization of issues, procurement malpractices, poor land management, inflating of contracts, leakages in tax system leading to inadequate revenue mobilization, lack of time frame for public services delivery, lack of contingency planning in respect of certain critical sectors of national life, etc, are making citizens lose confidence in politics and democracy in general.This put democracy at risk in Ghana because citizens feel democracy is not working,” he stated.
The Bishops further expressed concern about the increasing use of political vigilante and state security force against unarmed Ghanaians, especially Journalists. They are worried that such acts are likely to escalate during the 2020 general elections which may discredit the entire electoral process.
While raising concerns about how partisan politics has polarized parliament and made it ineffective and inability to function as a lawmaking organ of governance, the Bishops however tasked the Catholic MPs to lead parliament to take bipartisan stance to help fight against the activities of illegal mining known as “Gamalsey”, which is destroying the environment.
They also urged the MPs to at all time live a life worthy emulation and be on guard against allowing the angry rhetoric that comes from a polarized society, especially in an election year, to seep into discussions about what would not promote peace in the country.
“For us we will continue to hold government responsible and criticise. Whatever we do, if that does not result into peace, then is not worthy doing,” Bishop Aseidu emphasised.
Some of the Bishops added that the polarization in society is affecting the church and called on the Catholic MPs to help in promoting peace in the country irrespective of their political colors.
The MPs were also entreated to continue to contribute financially to the Church, especially the Catholic University College at Fiape near Sunyani in the Bono Region, as it faces financial difficulties.
The Bishops served notices, they would take most of the national issues discussed to the President, Nana Akufo Addo, for further discussing on how best to resolve some of the issues, stressing the GCBC has the moral obligation to draw the government attention on matters of national interest.
The MPs in their respective contribution, also raised concern on the need for the Church to renew and reform some of the policies to suit modern society behaviors, especially duration of Catchumen, making the Church proximity to people, revisiting Catechist roles, relaxing some of the strict rules to help raise funds for the development of the Church, among other pertinent issues.
The meeting with the Catholic MPs, according to the Secretary General, Very Rev.Fr Anondee shows,”how it’s important for all of us to help the growth of the Catholic faith and the need to promote peace.”
He told CATHOLIC STANDARD, the meeting gave the GCBC some ideas on how to continue helping people to understand the reality of society, but also spoke about how increasing polarization of national issues are affecting our democracy.
The overall interest, Fr Anondee insisted was the fact that,”it is important to see the need for dialogue between people and to understand that we are all children of God.”
He assured the Catholic Church would continue to speak on national issues so as to help build a harmonious society for the betterment of the people.
Source: Felix Nyaaba