Catholic Bishops Raise Alarm Over Corruption

Catholic bishops have sneered at what they see as an all-encompassing spate of corruption which for them is eating the country away.

The above was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of their annual plenary assembly at Koforidua which spanned between November 2 and 9, 2012, under the theme ‘The Church, Family of God in Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.’

The communiqué was signed, sealed and delivered by the Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Mampong diocese and President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

True to previous deliberations during which the ecclesiasts critique societal shortcomings the communiqué spanned family life to the forthcoming elections including the protection of the vulnerable.

Describing corruption as evil they declared “these evils are now endemic in every section of the society” which according to them “calls for determined efforts of all Ghanaians to rid ourselves of the canker that is gradually eating us away.”

Expatiating they noted that In most offices and places of work people make demands before they render the services they are already paid to render. The anomaly, they said, has become so “acceptable” and part of our life that according to them “the few who would not indulge in it are considered as odd by their friends and fellow workers.”

If we all stopped giving and receiving bribes, the bishops stressed “we would all stand to gain immensely.”

Appealing to the Church, government and all people of goodwill as they put it, they demanded of all to “take the lead to make the whole nation accept this weakness together as a people so we can start addressing the problem together.”

To the adherents of the Catholic faith they said “We appeal once again to all Catholics to continue to pray the ‘Prayer Against Bribery and Corruption’, while at the same time refusing to give or take bribes.”

Education was also in the sight of the bishops as they took exception to the 3-year-SHS duration praying that the order is reversed to the previous 4-year duration.

They recalled making an appeal to the government last year in a similar communiqué for the status quo to be maintained for some time to as they pointed out “know its full benefits and disadvantages before we decide whether to make any changes or switch to another system”.

This year, they went on, “We make the same appeal to the government. There is no denying the fact that it is possible to finish the academic syllabus within three years, given greater commitment on the part of teachers and cooperation from students.”

But basing ourselves on the testimony of teachers and the formative needs of the students, the bishops stated, “We urge that the four years SHS programme be brought back.”

Turning to the forthcoming polls the bishops asked all stakeholders to learn from the mistakes and successes of past elections to make the impending exercise even more successful.

“We owe it to ourselves, as one big family, to safeguard the electoral process for the peace we all cherish. All Ghanaians, especially politicians, need to be reminded that politics, like religion, is devoted to the service of personal and social vocation of the same human being,” adding “all politics should thus promote the integral development of all citizens as one family.”

Government, the EC, leadership of the political parties and supporters, security agencies and the media, they asked, should exhibit a high sense of professionalism. “All Ghanaians have a stake and should protect it,” they pointed out.

After the declaration of results the bishops urged all Ghanaians “to continue in the spirit of togetherness to join forces to build Mother Ghana.”

They commended the Chairman of the EC and his team for, as they stated, “their steadfastness and the preparations they have made for the upcoming elections. They have surmounted formidable challenges to make the biometric registration and voting a reality.”

They however appealed to the EC “to remain vigilant and to ensure that all relevant resources are deployed for the elections and all anticipated problems have anticipated solutions. Unnecessary delays or late delivery of human and material resources for the elections, creating unduly long queues and causing frustrations should be avoided at all cost. The application of justice, transparency and good management of the electoral process are very critical at this stage for sustaining the peace we enjoy.”

The bishops praised the government for the Constitutional Review Process aimed at according to them “introducing reforms to the 1992 Constitution after twenty years of democratic practice. We note that the government has issued a white paper on the Commission’s Report and has inaugurated the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee.”

They expressed the hope and expectation that “the process will continue to be open, participatory and inclusive to deepen our democracy and governance for the well-being of citizens.”

In this vein the bishops said “we look forward to reforms that will expand economic, social and cultural rights, and strengthen national institutions and systems that reduce bribery and corruption, and the elimination of the death penalty.”

This, they went on, “will stop the practice whereby the development of our country is subjected to the party manifesto of the government in power.”

Such method of planning often abandons projects of preceding governments with untold financial and social costs to the People of Ghana.”