African Bishops Offer Unified Message of Hope

A market in Addis Abba. Source: Catholic News Service

During homilies for Christmas and New Year’s, Catholic bishops and religious leaders across the continent of Africa have expressed deep concerns for what they call “severe challenges” that threaten peace and stability across the continent.

Pairing their warning with calls for peace, they challenged government officials and opposition leaders to participate in peace talks, engage in reconciliation, and partner with local communities to confront global challenges such as poverty, climate change and civil war.

In Chad, the Chadian Conference of Bishop said, “The demand for an inclusive national dialogue by the majority of Chadians expresses their desire to change the dark page of their history and to look to the future with optimism.”

Chad, currently under the control of a Transitional Military Council chaired by Gen. Mahamat Déby, had extended an invitation to all political parties to participate in talks about how to restore democracy in the landlocked country.

“For many of our fellow citizens, the process of inclusive national dialogue represents a great hope for ensuring lasting peace in our country,” the bishops said.

Déby, who succeeded his father, long time dictator Idriss Déby, became the de facto President of Chad following his father’s death during military operations against anti-government forces in April.

In his calls for national dialogue, Gen. Déby has found support from many religious leaders across faith traditions. Highlighting the significance of the President’s gesture to see peace restored in Chad following his father’s death, the Chadian bishops noted, “the death of President Déby has made this crisis obvious, and this inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation is becoming an urgent necessity in order to enable all the children of Chad to come together and agree on a new social contract that should bind them for the next few decades.”

Additionally, in Sudan, Bishop Yunan Andali of El Obeid, president of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, called on parishioners to pray for peace and justice in the country, which encountered a major stumbling block on the road to democracy following a military coup on October 25.

In his Christmas message, Bishop Andali highlighted that the advent of Christ’s birth is being observed amidst another year of uncertainty following the 2019 popular uprising that overthrew longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in an effort to restore democracy.

In Ghana, the Catholic bishops conference issues a joint Christmas message, critiqued what it described as “the unfortunate growing culture of disrespect and insults in Ghana, especially in our nation’s political arena and so wish to call on all our politicians and indeed, all citizens, to endeavor to put an end to this rising phenomenon.”

As we begin 2022, the bishops are prayerful that a new year will bring new possibilities because Christ’s birth awakens new possibilities of salvation. By acknowledging the state of where their countries find themselves political, they hope heightened awareness will contribute to more positive outcomes.

Source: Catholic News Service