The Catholic Bishops Conference has called on pastors to identify with governmentâ€™s fight against illegal small scale mining and allow their pulpits to be used as platforms for education on the dangers of the menace.
In a communique issued at the end of an annual joint meeting with the Christian Council of Ghana on Wednesday, the Catholic Church asked Christians in the nation to pray and commit themselves to the preservation of the environment and other natural resources at all times. The Church commended government for the satisfactory efforts of the â€œPresident to protect our water bodies, farm lands, forest reserves etc. and their commitment to end illegal mining in the countryâ€.
The communique called on government to sustain the fight to ensure that major river bodies like the Birim, Prah, Ankobra, Densu etc are drinkable again. It noted the menace of illegal mining is destroying the lives of ordinary Ghanaians, livestock and food stuff. Â Many of the youth have also abandoned the classroom leading to an increase in the illiteracy of the affected areas.
The communique also addressed some socio-economic and health challenges in the country.
Payment of national health insurance arrears
The communique said the National Health Insurance Scheme owed the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) hospitals in excess of È¼200,000,000.00 (two hundred million cedis). Over the years several efforts have been made by CHAG to reclaim our money but to no avail.
This has put healthcare delivery at CHAG facilities in dire distress â€œOur hospitals take loans from banks to run and pay interests. Moreover, CHAG has made a commitment that staff members in our hospitals and clinics do not use strike action as a means of negotiation and we want government to appreciate these efforts we are making and act accordinglyâ€.
The Catholic Church recommended to government and the Ministry of health to roll out, as a matter of urgency, a programme to pay all arrears owed the CHAG hospitals to ensure that churches are able to run their hospitals and clinics.
The communique expressed joy with governmentâ€™s efforts to implement its policy on Free SHS education and called for firm strategies to sustain the policy once it is rolled out, â€œWe welcome this idea as a pro-poor programme that would go a long way to ensure that most of our young people have access to at least senior high education levelâ€.
The Catholic Church however reiterated calls for deeper Church-State partnership in education. It wants churches to be allowed to own their schools and be given increased supervisory roles and oversight responsibilities. The Church should also be involved in the management of mission schools â€œto uphold the moral standards of education which have become a worry to many a Ghanaianâ€.
The communique said the church had â€œobserved with discomfort the levels of public indiscipline in our nation. The avoidable killings on our roads, open defecation resulting in diseases like cholera and typhoid, disregard for the rule of law, disregard for environmental cleanliness, lateness to work, lack of maintenance of public property, corruption etc. are examples of such worrying attitudes.â€
The Church therefore called on government to roll out a programme to facilitate attitudinal change and pledged its support for such a policy. A typical example is the need to establish accessible counseling units in our various institutions. Â
The Catholic Bishops Conference congratulated all Ghanaians for the peaceful manner in which the 2016 General elections were conducted. They body commended the Security Agencies, Electoral Commission, Religious Organisations, Traditional Leaders, the Media, Civil Society Organisations, Political Parties and all Stakeholders for the various roles they played to ensure the peaceful elections and transition of power from one political party to another.
The Conference however noted that pockets of violence especially from some supporters of the ruling political party during and after the period of the transition is a matter of concern.Â â€œThe destruction of state property, the unlawful seizure of government properties and most alarmingly, the attack on the rule of law and democracy are issues that call for serious attentionâ€.
The Bishops therefore called on all political parties especially the party in power to uphold the rule of law at all times to grow our democracy.
The communique observed that whereas individual denominations may be growing in the cities, most denominations in the rural areas are dying. The frontline of the Church as a national family is becoming weaker because adequate attention has not be paid to the unity of the National Church. The Conference is therefore calling on churches to embrace the spirit of ecumenism and foster closer relationships with neighbouring churches. Denominations should respond and work towards Jesusâ€™ prayer in John 17:21 â€˜That all may be one. Finally Denominations should not rise above their differences and see each other as one people with one God, one faith and one Bible.
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