COMMUNIQUE OF THE SYNOD - 2015
COMMUNIQUE OF FIRST SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF KONONGO-MAMPONG - 2015
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you (2 Cor. 13:13).
We, the bishop, priests, other pastoral collaborators and lay faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Konongo-Mampong, came together at the Spiritan University College, Ejisu, from May 24th – June 3rd 2015, for the first-ever Synod of the Diocese under the theme: “The Catholic Diocese of Konongo-Mampong in Retrospect: Prospects, Challenges and the Way Forward.”
During the Synod, we had the opportunity to pray and reflect together on the pastoral situation pertaining in our diocese as well as on the general socio-economic and political circumstances in our dear country Ghana. We have taken stock of the achievements, challenges, and the way forward for our diocese as we reflected on such topics as evangelization, education, self-reliance, youth and laity formation, marriage and family life, environment, witchcraft and curses, and interreligious dialogue.
We want to thank God for His manifold blessings on our diocese over the past twenty years. We thank God especially for the Christian families who strive in the midst of daunting socio-economic challenges to lead exemplary Christian lives. We thank God for the dedication and commitment of the bishop, priests, religious, laity and the generosity of the benefactors of the diocese. We thank God for the lives and the gift of the youth who constitute the future of the church in our diocese. We thank God for the growth of the church in the establishment of new parishes and rectorates, educational institutions and health facilities.
However, in the midst of all these blessings, we noted with concern the high level of abject poverty which characterizes the lives of the people especially in the rural areas. The people continue to be afflicted by disease, superstition and ignorance as well as an unacceptable level of unemployment among the youth, etc. We urge all concerned, especially policy makers, to redouble their efforts to arrest this troubling situation.
On education, we noted with regret that in spite of all the huge investments in this area of national development, we continue as a nation to turn out unemployable graduates. The unilateral emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge and skills has adversely affected the integral formation of our young people. Our schools are not doing enough in the area of the moral and human formation of the youth. The current state of widespread examination malpractices and the low level of academic achievement, especially in the rural areas, continue to bedevil our educational system and scar the conscience of the nation. It is distressing that parents, teachers and other educational officials actually collude to help students cheat at examinations under the misguided idea of securing the children’s future. In the light of this alarming situation, it is regrettable that governments, by their policies, continue to sideline the missions in the supervision and management of mission schools in the country. We urge the government to rethink some of these policies and enter into a meaningful partnership with all stakeholders for the sake of the future of our teeming youth. We further urge that 30% admission quota in the mission schools be given to the religious bodies that founded them.
The Synod also noted that the quality of parenting today leaves much to be desired. There is little or no adult supervision of many children who, as a result, are picking up habits that are detrimental to them and to the nation as a whole. We urge parents, especially our Catholic parents to be role models for their children, to spend quality time with their children and take keen interest in their holistic growth inspired by gospel values.
We took cognizance of the fact that land degradation, air pollution and the contamination of water bodies continue to threaten our very survival as a nation in spite of all the good laws that have been passed over the years to protect our forests and water bodies. Indiscriminate felling of trees, bush fires, “galamsey” operations, ‘building in water ways’, irresponsible disposal of liquid and solid waste and the wrong use of pesticides and weedicides are all problems that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. We urge all concerned, especially public institutions and local leaders, to treat these problems with the importance they deserve as we encourage our fellow Ghanaians to adopt a more responsible attitude toward environmental issues. Our first and second cycle schools should redouble their efforts to inculcate into the youth deep respect and care for the environment.
Bribery and corruption and all forms of malfeasance have infiltrated every sector of our national life and they are gradually ruining our nation. As a people, it is high time we stopped paying lip service to the ideal of probity and accountability and tackled head long this canker. We advocate transparency and accountability in the management of our national resources. We urge the quick passage of the Freedom of Information Bill as a necessary first step to involve the citizenry in the fight against official malfeasance. There is also the need for a proper formation of the youth to help them appreciate the values of integrity and hard work if we hope to reverse the current misguided trend of seeking social and material advancement by all means and by any means.
The Synod noted with concern the current religious situation in the country where some pastors and religious leaders are exploiting the masses and enriching themselves under the guise of alleviating their problems. Our people should understand that suffering is part of Christian living and that genuine Christianity teaches that God’s blessings cannot be bought. It is unchristian to demand money before helping an individual. We encourage the people to pray for the gift of discernment and our priests and other pastoral agents to intensify their education of the faithful in this unfortunate development of religious exploitation.
We also noted the global concern about the rapid rise in religious extremism and the violence associated with it. We urge our fellow Ghanaians to be alert to this danger and to work tirelessly to prevent extremism from taking any foothold in our country. Interreligious dialogue should be pursued relentlessly in order to create a healthy respect among believers of all religions.
Most Ghanaians, like most Africans are obsessed with the belief in witchcraft and its associated practices. The recent pervasive attention to witchcraft in the media and the high incidence of curses in Ghana are cause for great concern. This unfortunate situation is linked to the excessive focus on witchcraft and its attendant effects of fear and superstition. We call on all Christians to rely on their faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ as the only authentic Christian response to this unfortunate situation.
In the light of the above, we resolve:
1. To intensify our efforts to transform our lives and communities through the power of the gospel and through strong Christian communities
2. To offer good Christian education to all our youth, raise the standard of the academic performance of pupils and students in Catholic schools and inculcate in them strong Christian virtues, and continue to support our bishops in concluding a Partnership Agreement with the State on Education
3. To form the youth to have good Christian marriages and offer ongoing formation to couples to support them in their marriage
4. To make all the faithful conscious of their responsibility to keep their environment clean and healthy and avoid practices that degrade the land and water resources
5. To undertake schemes and projects that will make the diocese and local church communities self-reliant
6. To continue to develop good and healthy relations with Christians of other denominations and people of other religions; and
7. To support traditional rulers in their effort to curtail the high incidence of curses in their local areas.
Trusting that the above ideas and resolutions will help all people of goodwill in our country to work together to promote the spiritual, social and economic advancement of all Ghanaians, we ask the Lord to bless the work of all committed to the renewal and growth of the Church in the country.
Long live Ghana! Long live the Catholic Church! Long live Konongo-Mampong Diocese!
Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu
Catholic Bishop of Konongo-Mampong
3 June 2015.