Second Plenary Assembly of the RECOWA / CERAO
Held in Accra from 22nd to 29th February 2016
From February 22nd to 29th, 2016, we, the Bishops of the RECOWA-CERAO held in Accra, Ghana our Second Ordinary Plenary Assembly under the theme “The New Evangelization and the specific challenges of the Church Family of God in Africa; reconciliation, development and family“. Coming from 16 countries, the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops were about 150 in number.
The opening ceremony of the Assembly was held on the morning of February 23rd, 2016 in the presence of Mr. John Newman representing His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings Former President of Ghana, Professor Gilbert DD Kuupole, Chairman of the opening ceremony and other authorities. During the welcome speeches, the speakers expressed the joy of the political and ecclesiastical authorities of the country to host such a meeting in Ghana, land of peace and hospitality. All recognized the role of the Church in the construction of a society of development and peace.
Times of prayer, reflection, sharing, friendly fraternity filled these days of work. The Bishops thanked, first of all, God for the growth and vitality of the Church in the West African region, despite the many challenges the evangelisation faces.
During our work, we specifically reflected on the themes of reconciliation, development and family; the discussions enabled us to identify points that evoke among us as pastors concerns about several situations that the West African region faces:
- The growing insecurity, particularly the terrorist attacks in some of our countries such as Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
- The persecutions perpetrated against Christians,
- Migratory phenomena that cause a significant number of young Africans towards uncertain horizons, often risking their lives,
- Political tensions caused by the manipulation of constitutions and electoral processes deemed inadequate and unfair in some countries.
- Poor governance, corruption, social injustices and their corollaries,
- Lack of respect for religious freedom and the imposition of religion on all citizens by the state.
Challenges to deal with
We also focused on major challenges in various pastoral areas:
- Families affected by disruption of all kinds,
- Inter-religious dialogue, the formation of the Christian faithful
- Religious syncretism
- Commercial exploitation of religion,
- Youth unemployment, the impoverishment
Faced with these challenges, we urge the faithful to persevere in the faith and to be more consistent in the exercise of their responsibilities. We invite all actors of Evangelisation to work harder in their respective missions.
We call on politicians to promote good governance and equity in the management of the common good, respect for human rights and reject the culture of death. In the spirit of the Year of mercy and reconciliation, we urge them to commit strong acts of appeasement and clemency.
We urge families to rediscover their vocation as God intended it in the union between a man and a woman and the openness for responsible parenthood. We extend our encouragement to women to live up to their vocation as mother and educator. We also invite them to actively resist the culture of death, conveyed by modern ideologies of reproductive health. In doing so, they will contribute to building a society where peace, tolerance, dialogue and acceptance of others reign.
We urge young people not to lose hope but to believe in the possibility of thriving in their lives and achieve their happiness on the African continent.
We reiterate our deep sympathy to the families bereaved by terrorist attacks, the Christian communities persecuted as well as countries affected by these barbaric acts.
On the eve of the presidential election, we encourage all political actors and the Ghanaian people to preserve the democratic gains of the country in order to consolidate peace.
Renewal of responsibilities
At the end of our work, we renewed the management structures and bodies for the administration of the Conference. So the following were elected as:
1st Vice President:
2nd Vice President:
Deputy Secretary General:
At the end of our stay, we express with gratitude, our appreciation to His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, his Government, the political, civil, administrative, religious, customary and military authorities as well as the people of Ghana for their solicitude and interest given to our meeting. We will keep in long remembrance the hospitality we have been the beneficiaries. We thank our brother bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Ghana, the clergy and religious, as well as the various services put in place by the organising committee.
Our thanks go especially to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). We do not forget the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America, the international agencies, including Missio Aachen, CRS, CAFOD for their effective presence at our side, as well as the national partners: uniBank the Orders of Knights and Ladies of Marshall and Saint John, etc. We extend the same thanks to the faithful and people of goodwill who have supported us through prayer and through their various contributions.
We raise our prayer to God, the Father of Mercy; may he give us his Holy Spirit to lead us on the way of true reconciliation. We join our prayer to our Heavenly Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for our countries; that families may live in peace, cohesion for a stable, just and prosperous society.
Wholeheartedly, we give our blessing to the brotherly people of Ghana, our respective churches and all those who contributed for the success of this Assembly.
Given in Accra on February 29th, 2016.