AFRICA/GHANA - Evangelization, peace and care for Creation: the challenges of the Church in Ghana according to the President of the Episcopal Conference

Wednesday, 24 May 2023 local churches   bishops   laudato sì  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The Church in Ghana has constantly grown in number, but this poses a challenge because we do not have enough evangelization agents", says Msgr. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, Bishop of Sunyani and President of the Ghana Episcopal Conference, in an interview given to Agenzia Fides.
"We have few priests and also a linguistic challenge that makes it difficult to deepen the faith through a catechism adapted to the people", underlines Msgr. Gyamfi, "in Ghana there are many sects of Pentecostal and Evangelical origin that speak the local languages. Thus, several faithful Catholics are attracted to these sects," he says. "Thank God", continues the bishop, "the problem of local languages is now being resolved, at least in part. Historically, the missionaries who came from Europe, America or Asia did not speak the local languages. Most of the clergy and of the members of religious orders are now Ghanaian, so the language problem is less serious than it was some time ago".
The laity also play a very important role, especially the catechists who have been present since the beginning of evangelization together with the missionaries", underlines the President of the Episcopal Conference. "Catechists are the guides of the Catholic communities in the villages, numbering in the hundreds, where priests cannot ensure a constant presence. Thus we have a strong and lively lay community that participates in various aspects of ecclesial life".
At an ecumenical and interreligious level, Msgr. Gyamfi says that "we maintain very cordial relations with other religious communities. We hold annual ecumenical meetings with the Christian communities of Ghana, both at the national and local levels. Even at the parish level, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is very common. As Catholic Bishops, we have started a national dialogue with Muslims".
"Regarding the so-called sects, dialogue continues to be difficult also because of their number and variety", continues Msgr. Gyamfi. "When taken together, members of the various sects outnumber Catholics. But the Catholic Church remains the single largest Christian denomination in the country". "Apart from one or two cases, these sects are of local origin or, in any case, come from other parts of Africa and not from outside our continent," says the bishop.
Ghana is considered one of the most stable African countries, but there are some unstable areas where "there are conflicts that are not of a confessional nature", says Msgr. Gyamfi.
"There are clashes between ethnic groups and tribes or struggles for power within the same ethnic group", explains the Bishop. "The most worrying conflict is that of the Bawku area, in northern Ghana", underlines Msgr. Gyamfi, referring to the confrontation between the Mamprusi and Kusasi populations (see Fides, 6/3/2023). "The Church is committed to reconciliation between these populations. The bishops of the area speak with both parties, create peace and reconciliation committees to find solutions to the conflict. The problem is not yet resolved, but we continue to persevere in our mediation efforts", he says. "We must never give up, as in the case of the Yendi conflict in northern Ghana, where the local bishop, after years of trying, managed to come up with a solution." It must be remembered that this crisis dates back to 2002 and it was about the crisis over the succession of the traditional king Dagbamba (see Fides, 12/6/2007).
Finally, the Catholic Church is very active in protecting the environment, in a country that the rest of the world uses as a dumping ground for electronic waste and clothing. "In light of 'Laudato Si', we have created recycling centers for plastic and electronic waste with Caritas. But we also have water pollution caused by illegal gold mining (see Fides, 17/11/2022), which also cause heavy deforestation. We have launched a program to plant trees, up to 3 million last year alone", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 24/5/2023)