MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE KONONGO-MAMPONG DIOCESE, THE 20TH
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BISHOP’S EPISCOPATE AND
THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BISHOP’S PRIESTLY ORDINATION
On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Konongo-Mampong Diocese, of the 20th Anniversary of my episcopate, and the 40th Anniversary of my priestly ordination, it gives me the greatest pleasure, on behalf of the Konongo-Mampong Diocese and on my own behalf, to welcome you all to this Thanksgiving Mass.
I was ordained a priest on 3 August 1975 together with Fr. Martin Adu, now in Miami, Florida, U.S.A., and Fr. Augustine Barimah of blessed memory, in St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica by Most Rev. Peter K. Sarpong, at that time Bishop of Kumasi (now Archbishop Emeritus I of Kumasi). After my ordination I was assigned to the St. Mary’s Parish, Suntresu, Kumasi. After one year of pastoral work, I was asked to pursue doctoral studies in New Testament in Aberdeen, Scotland. On completion of my doctoral studies, I was asked by my bishop in 1981 to go and lecture in the Department for the Study of Religions, University of Ghana, Legon. While there, I also did chaplaincy work for the Catholic Communities at Legon and Kwabenya.
On 17 March 1995, while on a sabbatical leave at the Pontifical Beda College, Rome, I was appointed the first bishop of the Konongo-Mampong Diocese that had been erected on 3 March 1995. I was ordained a bishop on 28 May 1995 together with Most Rev. Thomas Kwaku Mensah, Bishop of Obuasi (now Archbishop Emeritus II of Kumasi), Most Rev. Philip Naameh, Bishop of Damongo (now Archbishop of Tamale), Most Rev. Anthony Kwami Adanuty, Bishop of Keta, and Most Rev. Gabriel Akwasi Ababio Mante, Bishop of Jasikan. My installation in Mampong took place on 11 June 1995.
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU,
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG AND PRESIDENT,
GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE,
AT THE SECAM CONSULTATIVE MEETING
ON THE FAMILY HELD AT GIMPA, ACCRA,
FROM 8TH TO 11TH JUNE 2015
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Rev. Fathers and Sisters, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, to welcome you all to this Consultative Meeting for African Synod Fathers being organized by SECAM (the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) in preparation for the upcoming Synod in Rome on the Family. This Consultative Meeting, which is being held at GIMPA, Accra, from 8th to 11th June 2015, is being attended by about 50 participants, made up of five Cardinals, 38 Bishops and Priests.
As you are all aware, the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place in Rome from 5 to 19 October 2014 on the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”. As a follow-up to this Synod, the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in Rome from 4 to 25 October 2015 on the theme “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World”.
The theme of this Consultative Meeting is “The Family in Africa: What Experiences and What Contributions to the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops?” The point of departure in addressing this theme must be the Christian understanding of the family and marriage. This understanding is that God, by forming the first man and woman and commanding them to be fruitful and to multiply (Gen. 1:28) definitively established marriage to be a permanent union between one man and one woman. Consequently, the family becomes the sanctuary where life is born, nurtured and welcomed as a gift of God. By matrimonial covenant which the Lord Jesus raised to the dignity of a sacrament, a man and a woman come together to establish between themselves a relationship of love which by its very nature is ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. This covenant of love consequently takes the character and effect of unity, indissolubility, fidelity and openness to life. Marital love also requires the fidelity of the spouses flowing from the gift of oneself to one’s lawful spouse (cf. Eph. 5:32).
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.
Dear Synod Fathers and Synod Mothers, last Friday during my homily I had the chance to comment briefly on the passage in Mark’s Gospel dealing with the cursing of the fig tree. I hope that the following write-up will help to throw more light on this difficult passage.
THE CURSING OF THE FIG TREE
Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu
“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’. And his disciples heard it” (Mk.11:12-14)
Certain actions of Jesus in the Gospels sometimes cause problems for the reader. In some cases, his actions do not seem to agree with what he does as well as with what he teaches elsewhere. In the Gospels, we get the impression that Jesus is someone who is gentle, loving, and kind. He comes across as the special friend of the poor and the needy. However, several actions of his, at first glance, appear cruel, harsh, and unkind. An example is the passage dealing with the cursing of the fig tree quoted above. This event, related by Mark, is also found in a shorter form in Matthew (21:18ff).
There are many difficulties with this story. Of all the miracles performed by Jesus, this is the only one that is a miracle of destruction. (The destruction of the swine in Mk. 5:1-20 is different in that it is incidental to the healing of the demoniac).
Some Christians find Jesus’ action in this story quite shocking. According to some scholars, the incident cannot be historical because it is unthinkable that Jesus would destroy a fruit tree simply because it did not have fruit for him. Other interpreters see this as a story of miraculous power wasted in the service of a quick-tempered Jesus. Therefore, some scholars deny that this incident ever happened and claim that it is a fictitious miracle story which developed from the parable of the unfruitful fig tree in Lk. 13:6-9.
CAN A CHRISTIAN POUR LIBATION?
Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu
Bishop of Konongo-Mampong
Libation is a simple rite in which one takes some liquid and pours it on the ground or sometimes on an object while pronouncing some words. The liquid may be palm wine, schnapps, whisky, gin, akpeteshe, or even water. The liquid used for the ceremony must actually be poured out. The idea of pouring out symbolizes destruction, which is found in all forms of sacrifice. The accompanying prayer is most often improvised or inspired by the occasion. But sometimes stereotyped formulae are used, especially on formal and official occasions. These include festival days and the funeral obsequies of some dead person. But whether the prayer is improvised or whether it is a stereotyped formula, the way it is said follows a more or less defined pattern. In general it is enough to mention the name of the person to whom the libation is being poured and then the liquid. Thus one may say, “Ancestor Kwadwo, wine”. This is the shortest form. A slightly longer form is, “Ancestor Kwadwo, receive this wine and drink it”. Sometimes also the addressees are mentioned in the plural, e.g., “All you gods of Ashanti, receive this wine and drink”. The names are mentioned one after the other and a bit of the drink is poured on the ground each time one of them is mentioned.
When all the names have been mentioned, the person pouring the libation continues with his petition. Thus during a child-naming ceremony, one may say, “You have blessed us with this child; do not allow any misfortune to befall him”.
Libation may also take the following form. With water or alcoholic drink in hand, the person pouring the libation raises the drink to God Almighty as he/she says words like these: “We show you drink, we do not offer you drink.” Some then go on to invoke God’s blessing on the drink by saying: “We show this drink to you so that you may touch it and remove from it all evil, so that as we pour it, whatever we say or implore for ourselves may be efficacious unto our good”. Next we have the invocation of the gods and the ancestors and the declaration to them of the purpose of the prayer. Some go on to invoke a curse on all those who out of hatred would wish that nothing good resulted from the gathering.