PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF RECOWA AT
THE END OF THE LAUNCHING OF THE ONLINE PILGRIMAGE FOR JUSTICE
- The General Secretariat of RECOWA, in partnership with CIDSE (Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité) (an international family of Catholic social justice organisations) et Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN) launched an Online Pilgrimage for Justice, on October 27, 2021. This event will last from 27th October 2021 to 9th May 2022 with the closing Mass of the 4th Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA).
- The “Online Pilgrimage for Justice” is an intentional effort of the Church in this episcopal region to be a more listening Church. Indeed, the “cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth” (LS 49) in our time have become deafening and the victims can no longer be comforted (Jer 31:15). The Church in West Africa cannot look to the other side in this situation and therefore call all men and women of goodwill to stand with her and demonstrate their empathy and solidarity with them.
- At the heart of the cry is the demand for land justice, protection of the poor against corporate and elite impunity, plundering of the earth’s natural resources, burdening the earth with toxic agriculture and saving our common home from the impending climate implosion. The RECOWA Secretariat is highly saddened about this situation and use this online pilgrimage for justice to call on the intergovernmental working group (IGWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights and the UNFCCC/COP26 to listen to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth that indeed “Our land is Our Life”. The echo from the just concluded session of the IGWG on Business is not heartwarming and we are frightened that COP26 may toe the same orientation. The COVID- 19 pandemic has shown us that in our interdependent world, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Peace is never won by the power of gun but through power of love and brotherhood. There cannot be peace in the world until everyone has a place on the banquet table. The cry of the poor is indeed a cry for inclusion and the cry of the earth is a cry for restraint in our consumption.
- The RECOWA Bishops are unwavering in their call for the establishment of a global and legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations. The COP26 is called to be more ambitious in the climate summit negotiations to replace the carbon trade strategy with greenhouse gas reduction. The respective governments in West Africa must rise to their responsibilities towards their people and work collaboratively with other countries to archive climate and land justice for all.
- The RECOWA Secretariat draws particular attention to the caravan of communities impacted by resource grabbing and the climate injustice holding from 25th November to 11th December under the aegis of West African Global Convergence for Land, Water and Seeds Struggle – Convergence Globale des Luttes pour la Terre et l’Eau-Afrique de l’Ouest (CGLTE-OA). We hold them very close to our heart in prayer during the caravan and stand with them in this struggle. It is a struggle for life and justice. Their struggle embodies the struggles of the Church for social and ecological justice. We call on the Governments of Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra-Leone that form the route of the caravan to ensure the safety of this peaceful struggle. In the same vein, we call on the local Church communities on the route of the caravan to welcome them, offer them moral and material support within their reach (Matthew 25:40)
- The President of RECOWA, Most Reverend Ignatius Ayau Kaigama specifically asks for the helping hands of the Church’s own institutional structures (National and / or Territorial Episcopal Conferences, dioceses, religious congregations, the Clergy, the Christ’s Lay Faithful, the Caritas, Justice, Peace and Development and / or Environment commissions), to identify with the poor and the oppressed of West Africa in their struggles for sustainable livelihoods and ecological justice.
- Finally, we are encouraging the National and Diocesan Justice and Peace Commissions to redouble their efforts and innovations in the assistance, protection and care of victims of the harmful effects of the land grabbing and expropriation. The RECOWA bishops, through their General Secretariat, are committed to doing intense “advocacy work with all national, regional and international bodies so that strong frameworks and mechanisms can be put in place to reduce these injustices and anomalies” to the barest minimum.
Abuja, 1st November 2021
Rev. fr. Joseph Aka
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