2nd Plenary Assembly 2016 of RECOWA/CERAO Held in Accra from February 22 to 29, 2016: Press Conference
From 22nd to 29th February, 2016, we, bishops of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA-CERAO) held in Accra, Ghana, our Second Ordinary Plenary Assembly under the theme of « The New Evangelization and Specific Challenges for the Church, Family of God in West Africa; Reconciliation, Development, Family. Coming from 16 countries, we, Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, were 120 in number.
The opening ceremony of this assembly took place in the morning of February 23, 2016 in the presence of Mr. John Newman, member of the Council of State, representing his excellence John Dramani MAHAMA, president of the Republic of Ghana, his excellency Jerry John Rawlings, former president of Ghana, his excellency Bishop Jean-Marie SPEICH, Apostolic Nuncio of Ghana, Professor Gilbert D.D. Kuupole, the chairperson of the opening ceremony, and other dignitaries of the country. Through the welcome addresses, those who intervened, expressed gratitude to the political and economic authorities of the country of welcoming such a meeting in Ghana, motherland of peace and hospitality. All of them have underlined the role of the church in the building of a peaceful and developed society.
Prayer, reflection, sharing, and fraternal conviviality have characterized these days of working. We have, first of all, give praise to God for the growth and the dynamism of the Church in the West African region, despite all the challenges that the Church is facing in its mission of evangelization. We also welcome the major progress accomplished in the process of merger between the old regional conferences, beyond linguistic barriers.
During our discussions, we have reflected specifically on the theme of reconciliation, development and family. The exchanges have brought up points, which aroused among us pastors, the concerns about various present situations the West African:
· Increasing insecurity, in particular the terrorist attacks which hit some of our countries like Nigéria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad.
· The persecutions of Christians
· The phenomenon of migration which attracks an important number of African youth towards uncertain horizons, sometime at the risk of their lives
· The political tensions caused by the manipulation of constitutions and the electoral process, judged inadequate and unjust in certain countries.
· Bad governance, corruption, social injustice and their corollaries
· Failure to respect religious freedom and the imposition by the state of religion on all citizens.
· Contraceptives Imposition
Exhortations and Appeals
In the face of these challenges, we exhort the catholic faithful to persevere in faith and to be more coherent in the exercise of their responsibilities. We invite all the agent of evangelization to intensify their zeal in their respective missions.
We call on the political leaders to promote good governance and equity in the management of the common good and to respect human rights and to reject the culture of death. On the other hand, in the spirit of the Year of Mercy and of reconciliation, we urge them to commit act of appeasement and clemency. We call on families to rediscover their vocation as God planned and willed through the union of man and woman and to be open to paternal and maternal responsibility. We encourage women to live their vocation of mother and teacher. We urge them, also, to actively resist the “culture of death”, conveyed by modern ideologies of “reproductive health”. Thus, they will build a society where peace, tolerance, dialogue and the acceptance of one other prevail.
We exhort the youth not to lose hope but to believe in the possibility of being successful in their lives and to realize their happiness on the African continent.
We express our deep sympathy to the families bereaved by terrorist attacks, to the persecuted Christian communities, to other countries affected by these barbaric acts and those affected by the Ebola Epidemic.
On the eve of the presidential elections, we encourage all political actors and also the Ghanaian people to preserve the democratic gains of their country in order to consolidate peace.
Election of New Leaders
At the end of the RECOWA Plenary Assembly 2016, the following were elected for the next three years:
President: Most Reverend IGNATIUS AYEW KAIGAMA, Archbishop of Jos (Nigeria)
1st Deputy President: Most Reverend JOSE CAMNATE NA BISSIGN, Bishop of Bissau (Guinea Bissau)
2nd Deputy President: Most Reverend ALEXI TOUABLY YOULO, Bishop of Agboville (Cote d’Ivoire)
General Secretary: Reverend Father Joseph AKA
Word of Gratitude
We wish to express our gratitude to His Excellency John Dramani MAHAMA, President of the Republic of Ghana, to the government, and the people of Ghana, to the political, civil, administrative, religious and traditional authorities, to the security forces, for their care and their interest accorded to our assembly. We will always remember the warm hospitality that we enjoyed. We thank our colleagues from the episcopal conference of Ghana, the clergy, the religious men and women, and different services put in place by the organizing committee.
Our gratitude is particularly addressed to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SCEAM). We also thank the Conference of the Bishops of United States, the international agencies, mostly Missio Aachen, CRS, CAFOD for their presence and contribution; and also the national partners: UniBank, the Orders of the Knights Marshall, the Knights and St John International, etc. We express same gratitude to the lay faithful and the people of good will, which have supported us through prayers and various contributions.
We raise our prayer to God, the Father of all mercies; that He gives us his Holy Spirit to lead us on the way to true reconciliation. We unify our prayer to our heavenly Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary so that she might intercede for our countries. May families live in peace, stability and in just and prosperous society.
Wholeheartedly, we give our blessing to the brotherly people of Ghana, to our respective Churches and all those who worked for the success of this assembly.
The next Ordinary Plenary Assembly of RECOWA-CERAO will take place in 2019.
Delivered in Accra on February 28, 2016.
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