Most Rev. Gabriel Yaw Justice Anokye, Archbishop of Kumasi, Second Vice-President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and Chairman of its Justice, Peace and Development Commission, has called on Justice and Peace Commissions in Africa to be more active in supporting the Church in addressing issues pertaining to social justice, equality, human rights, promotion of the common good, democratic coexistence, reconciliation and integral human development in any given country or region in Africa.
He stressed that the Justice and Peace Commissions in Africa ought to be a body of study and reflection among the general pastoral activity of any given Bishops’ Conference. “As such, these commissions should be viewed as ecclesial organs of the Church which are therefore meant to be an essential instrument in a pastoral program for achieving reconciliation, justice and peace on our continent.” he added.
Archbishop Anokye made the call today at the opening ceremony of a Continental Congress on the theme Justice and Peace at the service of Reconciliation and Integral Development of Africa that is taking place in Windhoek, Namibia from March 12- 15, 2015. The Congress being attended by national and regional Justice and Peace commissions in Africa has been organised by the Justice and Peace Commission of SECAM in collaboration with the Episcopal Conference of Namibia.
He said that one of the core mandates of the Justice and Peace Commissions in Africa is to play a key role in the policy discussions in their respective countries as well as at the regional, continental and global levels.
Archbishop Anokye emphasised that the Church in Africa must have the courage to be prophetic in preaching the Gospel. “We must not be afraid to name and shame the devil or to correct the ills of society if we want to be a truly reconciled African continent”, he added.
He noted with regret that the youth in Africa are getting more and more involved in violent conflicts in Africa either as supporters, perpetrators or followers of politicians who more often than not happen to be fuelling those conflicts. Some of the youth, he observed, who fall victims of these conflicts are eventually compelled to flee their homelands to other countries under inhuman conditions and at the expense of the development of their various countries. Bishop Anokye therefore appealed to political leaders in Africa to rather mobilise the youth to be agents for peace and integral development of the continent of Africa.
Regarding reconciliation, Archbishop Anokye announced that SECAM has declared the celebration of a continental Year of Reconciliation for Africa on the theme ”Family of God Church in Africa in Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace’’. The year of reconciliation will start from July 29, 2015 to July 29, 2016.
The Congress will also assess the achievements of the Justice and Peace Commissions in the area of reconciliation and development in view of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: Africae Munus.
The Congress will further use the occasion to strengthen the networking and sharing of experiences among the Justice and Peace Commissions in Africa.
Representatives of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; MISEREOR, a German Development Agency; and officials of Government and Civil Society Organistions of Namibia are also attending the Congress.
Prepared by the Communications Office of SECAM.