Saturday, February 25, 2023
Catholic Bishops in Ghana are appealing for divine intervention through intense prayers for an end to violent conflicts in the West African nation and internationally. The appeal has been made in their Pastoral Letter for Lent 2023 in which members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) express “sorrow and grief” over violent conflicts in Ghana’s Bawku region and “the raging Russia-Ukraine war”. [ACI Africa]
“The ongoing conflicts in Bawku and other parts of the country as well as the raging Russia-Ukraine war continue to fill our hearts with much sorrow and grief,” GCBC members say in their Pastoral Letter shared with ACI Africa Thursday, February 23.
They add in reference to the Lenten Period, “As we continue to pray for God’s definitive intervention in these conflict situations, we call on all Catholics and other Christians as well as our Muslim brothers and sisters and indeed all people of faith and good will to join us to continue to offer prayers and petitions to God within this special Season and beyond for an end to these conflicts and wars.”
They encourage Ghanaian Catholics to “intensify prayers for an end to these wars and conflict situations in the hope that with God all things are possible”, and add, “Prayer is our greatest weapon; for what is impossible, prayer makes possible.”
GCBC members also appeal for prayers for “all the victims of the Turkey-Syria disaster, for God’s repose for those who have lost their lives, especially, our compatriot Christian Atsu”. “We pray for consolation for the grieving families and God’s abundant blessings for those involved in the rescue efforts,” Catholic Bishops in Ghana say in their letter dated Tuesday, February 21, referencing the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria that reportedly claimed at least 47,000 lives.
They followers of Christ in the country to use the Lenten Season to foster peaceful co-existence, saying, “We believe, as Christians, that Jesus Christ is our peace and reconciliation and that He has broken down the walls of discrimination and division among people, and more so, He has reconciled humanity with God our Creator and us with each other.”
“Our country, at this material moment, needs her sons and daughters to live in peace and harmony in their families, in their marriages and homes, in their localities, in their places of work, in their clans and ethnic groups, peace and harmony among members of different political parties and in the nation as a whole,” the Catholic Bishops in their Letter signed by GCBC President, Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi. They emphasize the need to “change our hearts and seek peace and reconciliation with God, neighbor and the world around us.”
“Our prayer is that we will all endeavor to use this year’s Season of Lent to seek peace and reconciliation with God and our neighbors,” GCBC members say. They further say that the Season of Lent “is a special season of instruction” and that “the readings for the season have been chosen carefully to help our faith to grow.”
“Spend more quality time in this grace-filled season reading their Bibles, other spiritual books and to listen attentively to the instructions on the faith in the various celebrations of the Season,” Catholic Bishops in Ghana appeal in their February 21 Pastoral Letter. They call on “all citizens of Ghana in general, and our Catholic faithful in particular, to intensify their life of prayer, fasting, and good works and also avail themselves for the sacrament of penance and reconciliation in this season of Lent.”
“Lenten spirituality is combative, a struggle against evil and sinful inclinations,” GCBC members say, and continue, “In this season, we need to carry out the combat against evil and sinful inclinations every day”. “Using the weapons of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we must face the struggle to overcome these evil and sinful inclinations in our lives each day, particularly, in this holy Season,” they further say. The Catholic Church leaders underscore the need to take part in the Sacrament of Confession, saying, “This grace-filled season invites us not only to be content with ridding ourselves of grave or mortal sins, but also every venial sin.”
“In this spiritual endeavor, we exhort all to strive to be committed to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as well as the practice of corporal and spiritual works of mercy proposed by the Church, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and the imprisoned, bearing wrongs patiently, comforting the sorrowful and admonishing sinners during this season of grace,” they say. GCBC members implore, “May God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong. May God grant us His peace and a grace-filled Lenten Season.”
[Jude Atemanke – ACI Africa]