Four Issues of Concern for Bishops in Liberia Who Want
“peaceable and reconciled” Nation
Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia (CABICOL) who have issued a statement on “Matters of National Concern” in the West African country have highlighted four main issues, invoking the intercession of Mary for a peaceful and reconciled nation.
In their Tuesday, August 25 signed by the President of CABICOL, Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah, the Prelates highlight violence, rape, militant tendencies and the COVID-19 as the main issues of concern for the people of God in the West African nation.
They recall raising their “prophetic voices against the rise of political violence, often associated with elections in our country.”
“We did condemn unequivocally such acts and invited all Liberians from different political parties to work together, ensuring that our elections are not synonymous with violence,” the Bishops say in reference to a statement issued in May 2019 and add, “Our cry got little attention, as violence seems to be perpetuating itself ad infinitum.”
In their three-page statement, the Bishops renew their “call on political actors and their follows to refrain from political violence.”
“There is also an increase in verbal violence in which reckless and unsavoury utterances are made against one another. Such uncivil and vulgar statements are not compatible with our societal and cultural values and norms,” the members of CABICOL say, urging that the verbal confrontations stop “immediately.”
“We can always agree and disagree in a very polite and civil manner, thus teaching the younger generation good mannerism,” they further say and continue, “Liberia cannot afford to tread this path. These are signs of early warning to which all Liberians and our international partners must now take seriously and attend to.”
The reported spike in cases of rape in recent days in the country is also a cause for concern for the members of CABICOL, a situation they condemn “in the strongest possible term.”
“This is diabolical violence should have no place in our society. It is a flagrant violation of the inalienable rights that should be protected and defended at all times. Rape kills the physical and psychological state of victims and our nation. It is a deadly crime against our nation,” the Bishops in Liberia say in their August 25 collective statement.
Rape is a non-bailable offence in the west African country. However, some public servants, including the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, are calling for the death penalty to be introduced as punishment for the perpetrators of rape.
“In as much as we strongly condemn this nefarious act, the death penalty cannot serve as an adequate remedy to this problem,” the Catholic Church leaders in Liberia say in their August 25 statement.
They explain, “As Bishops of the Catholic Church, we uphold the teaching of the Church as contained in the revised version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2267, which states that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
Instead of introducing the death penalty, the members of CABICOL call for “strict application of the laws against rape” as well as the “re-education of all, to the intrinsic values of the human person, the protection of the rights of all especially of women and children.”
The Bishops in Liberia are also concerned about “an ugly and creepy culture of militant tendency growing up in our society.”
“Adepts of political institutions adorn political symbols rather than national symbols during national functions. Thus, militarism is placed over and above patriotism. This too is a form of violence that needs to stop,” the Bishops say.
“Let us not forget that the Mother Land is our common denominator. Irrespective of our various and varying political ideologies, we belong to the one Liberia,” they further say and urge Liberians to be “united around national symbols like the flag.”
On COVID-19, which has infected at least 1,295 people, among them 82 casualties and 821 recoveries, the Bishops say that the pandemic has exacerbated “the already struggling state of our economy”
“Schools, Places of Worship, Health Centers, Entertainment Centers and other forms of human engagements were closed, leading to an adverse effect on our economy,” the Prelates say.
They express their appreciation for Liberians and the International Community for the measures taken and support offered to curb the further spread of the disease.
“Our special appreciations go to all medical practitioners, members of the joint security, and members of the mass media for all the efforts in curtailing the propagation of the virus,” the members of CABICOL say, offering their prayers “for those who lost their lives and suffered other consequences both at home and abroad.”
“Let us remember that like the rest of the world, the virus and its raging impact have not abated. There is, therefore, the need to continue to follow the basic health protocols of washing of hands, wearing of face masks and social distancing until a definite global solution is found,” the members of CABICOL urge in their collective message.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa