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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference is Superior to Political Parties

Sat, 19 Nov 2011 Source: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong

The key purpose of democracy is to promote harmony and progress in society. For this to be achieved, two basic elements have to be embraced and guaranteed: freedom and equality. It should however be clarified that freedom does not mean doing whatever one wishes anytime anywhere. Democratic freedom is supposed to be exercised within the boundaries of constitutional and legal order and without limiting the freedom of others. One such inalienable liberty is the freedom of thought or expression.

In a healthy democratic society, free thought should not be limited, but it is imperative that the expression of one’s thoughts is controlled in a way that does not offend or encroach on the equal rights of other individuals or groups. Democracy is injured when restrictions are applied to freedom of thought, but fatally wounded when thoughts are expressed irresponsibly, or in a way that disrespects others or their harmless and non-provocative opinions or recommendations.

It is quite evident that the authentic meaning of democracy is ‘fading into memories like rain drops falling into a river’, in Ghana. Ironically and disappointingly, many Ghanaians (including those who are supposed to be custodians of authentic democracy – political elites) are embarking on undemocratic activities and making unacceptable utterances in the very name of democracy.

As part of efforts to promote the development and growth of our nation, and to help us sustain our faith and belief in God, the Ghana Catholic Bishops hold a conference every year to discuss and help find solutions to various issues confronting our society – issues of national, ecclesiastical and human importance. After careful deliberations on recent events in our country and issues of importance to us all, the bishops always propose, for the consideration of the government and populace, some points that they think require special attention, and this year’s conference was no exception.

The conference was held in Takoradi from 2nd – 11th November 2011 under the theme ‘Good Governance for Peace’, and was preceded with a-four-day spiritual retreat and reflection on Good Governance. Among the issues discussed in relation to Good Governance and Peace were: the Church, people of God, politicians, government, metro/municipal/district assemblies, national development plan, education, computerized selection of schools and placement system (CSSPS), oil and gas find, the judiciary, parliament, politics of respect and civility, biometric registration and voting, and smooth political transition.

The communiqué issued by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the end of their annual plenary assembly has been met with fierce opposition and strong criticism mainly from members of the ruling NDC party. Interestingly however, the critics have picked on only two of the many issues discussed by the bishops and shared with the public, namely: their call for the authentication of the identity of voters, and for the abolition of the CSSPS (and the introduction of ‘a workable alternative’) as ‘there is corruption, confusion and inefficiency in the system’.

My intention here is not to comment on the suggestions of the bishops, but to respond to those who are baselessly insulting the great men of God, specifically Asiedu-Nketia and the columnist who calls himself/herself, The Informer.

Sadly, some empty-headed, disrespectful, arrogant and ignorant government officials and writers including the General Secretary of the ruling NDC party, Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, and a so-called columnist who writes under the pseudonym of The Informer, have gone to the extent of insulting the intelligent, humble, selfless and hardworking Shepherds who have played and continue to play a very significant role in the development of our nation. ‘We can meet the Catholic Bishops Conference anywhere, any day; we can meet any civil society organisation anywhere any day and indeed we have met NPP at IPAC and they could not stand the power of our argument,’ he boasted. I do not blame Asiedu-Nketia; I blame politics, which has given this less educated entity the audacity to question the integrity and intelligence of the Catholic Bishops, the body in charge of the best educational institutions in the country and on whose shoulders the future of the nation’s education rests to a considerable extent.

Asiedu-Nketia and the so-called The Informer accuse the bishops of being NPP sympathizers, just because they have identified some hitches in the administration of the NDC. They also very ignorantly claim that the Bishops’ Conference never issued any such admonishing communiqué when the NPP was in power. If they make a little effort to glance through some of the various communiqués that were issued during the NPP era (e.g. the 2006 communiqué) they would realize how ignorant, ridiculous and childish their accusation is.

There are even silly and pointless allegations from a section of the NDC that Archbishop Palmer Buckle met with some leading NPP members in a hotel at Takoradi prior to the release of their message, and that the statement was influenced by some members of the opposition NPP. Clearly these are pathetic souls who have absolutely no idea of the calibre of the individuals forming the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The best way to make them realize their idiocy is to ignore them.

For their information, the Bishops’ Conference is not just Archbishop Palmer Buckle or Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu (the current president). The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference is made up of over 20 Catholic Bishops from different corners of the country. Some are from NDC dominated regions, and others are from NPP dominated areas. It is therefore foolhardy of The Informer, Asiedu-Nketia and the so-called Young Democrats of the NDC to assert that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference is pro-NPP.

In an article, ‘Commentary: So Palmer Buckle, Osei-Bonsu, Join The League Of Obinims, “One Touchs” & Anamohs?’, published on Ghanaweb a couple of days ago, The Informer stupidly compares Archbishop Palmer Buckle and Bishop Osei-Bonsu with Obinim, Jesus One Touch and Anamoh. Only a supreme imbecile will make this diametrically incompatible comparison. He accuses the bishops of touching on ‘issues that they know nothing about’, and ‘amaz[ing] Ghanaians with their shallow level of understanding of the issues that have hit the nation’s headlines.’ He questions the bishops’ call for the reintroduction and retention of the 4 year SHS system and their expertise in the management of elections. He refers to the bishops ‘as a bunch of ignoramuses who are stark election-illiterates …’ Like Asiedu-Nketia, he hastily and narrow-mindedly describes the bishops’ insistence on a Biometric Registration Verification System and their rejection of the current Computerised School Selection Placement System as a shameful contradiction.

If The Informer and Asiedu-Nketia and their buddies honestly think that the Catholic Bishops know nothing about education and electoral management, then they are miserable jokers. In fact, one doesn’t need to be a PhD holder in Education or Electoral Management to identify gaps in a nation’s educational or electoral systems; however, it will interest Asiedu-Nketia and his cronies to know that the Catholic Bishops are not only authorities on Theology but also on various academic disciplines. Some hold top degrees in various fields like Education, Economics, Administration and Management, Law, Anthropology, Sociology, Communications, Philosophy, Languages, and many others from renowned educational institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Pontifical Gregorian, etc.

Besides, the Catholic Church as a well-established institution has a team of experts in almost every field of study or subject who are constantly consulted. This explains why it runs the best educational institutions and hospitals in the country. I doubt if General Mosquito has ever given this a good thought. What Asiedu-Nketia and his associates do not seem to fathom is the fact that the Catholic Church does not make public declarations on such issues (issues addressed in the communiqué) without a thorough and diligent deliberations. If they think the Catholic Bishops are the only ones complaining about the deterioration of the nation’s educational system, then they should read my article, ‘Yesterday’s ‘A’ Level Certificate is Superior to Today’s BA Degree’

The fact that they are religious leaders does not mean that they are barred from expressing their opinions on issues of national importance and concern. In fact, I have absolutely no doubt that the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference can govern the nation far better than any of the political parties in the country. Let’s all agree to hand over the governance of the nation to the Catholic Bishops, and it will be transformed into a first world in less than ten years. Asiedu-Nketia is advised to cut his coat according to his mosquito-like size next time.

I have always tried to be prudent and diplomatic in my use of diction and vocabulary, but certainly not in this piece. Apologies to my readers for the strong and “uncompromising” language employed in this particular article; I had no option.

Long live the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference!

Long live Ghana!

Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Black Power) is an Investigative Journalist and the author of Fourth Phase of Enslavement (2011). He may be contacted via email (andypower2002@yahoo.it)

Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong