Governments of the West African sub-region have been called upon to create a conducive atmosphere that will protect the youths of the sub-region “against ideologies that draw them to terrorists and criminal networks”.
This admonition was part of the resolutions and recommendations of the Bishops’ of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA-CERAO) at the end of their third Plenary Assembly held recently in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The theme of the plenary was: The New Evangelization and the Promotion of Integral Human Development in the Church Family of God in West Africa. The document was endorsed by the President of the conference, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama.
Speaking on the sub-theme: Youth, Faith and Migration: The Bishops declared: “We reaffirm our commitment in the pastoral of the youths that constitute the biggest part of our Church Family of God. We are conscious of their desire of happiness that leads many of them to migration and to the dramatical consequences of that plague.”
They continued: “We commit our church, pastors and community to be on the side of the youth, as we lend them an attentive hearing, as we encourage all the initiatives that keep the youth in their land and contribute to their wellbeing and as we promote their technical and professional training.” The bishops therefore called on governments of the region “to invest really in the youth with programmes for the youth in priority, and protect them against ideologies that draw them to terrorists and criminal networks.”
Other areas of concern mentioned in the Resolutions and Recommendations were: the progress of the Regional Conference, collaboration with ECOWAS, the role of the laity in the Church in the sub-region and the political situation in the sub-region. They called on political leaders to embrace good governance with respect for Constitution and the common good; and “to provide for political dialogue and integral and fair human development of the peoples”.
The Bishops also appreciated the people of consecrated life for their “prophetic witnessing”; and the message from the Vatican office of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reiterating their commitment “to take up the various challenges of the New Evangelization in Africa, especially the economic, religious and pastoral challenges”.
Commenting on the workshop facilitated by Cardinal Turkson and his collaborators which focused on self sufficiency of the Church in the sub-region, the Bishops stated: “It is with great interest that we welcome clarifications and exhortations of Cardinal TURKSON, Prefect of the Decastery for the service of Integral Human Development, and his collaborators. We are convinced of the need to work on the financial and material autonomy of our Churches, to put an end to the mentality of dependency.”
They reiterated the commitment of all the Bishops to take initiatives in this direction and to create the conditions favoring the employment of young people in particular. They added: “We affirm our willingness to work with partners driven by the concern for social entrepreneurship and social impact investment. We are equally committed to achieve an efficient result, to invest in formation of the necessary human resources.”
The Regional Plenary Assembly which also featured an opening Mass was attended by about 200 Bishops from all the Conferences in thesub- region, while the opening ceremony and the conference proper took place at the Burkina Faso Government Conference Centre. The ceremony was also attended by the President of Burkina Faso, Richard Marc Christian KABORE accompanied by an entourage of top government officials and other dignitaries from all walks of life. Highlights of the plenary included the re-election of Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria as President of the Conference for a second tenure. His two vice presidents are: Bishop Jose Kamnate from Guinea and Bishop Alexis Koulabli from Cote d'ivoire.
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