The Catholic Bishops of Ghana have issued a strong statement in which they have said Ghanaian President John Mahama’s threat of sanctions “against religious discrimination” in Christian schools is unwarranted.
“We wish to assure Heads of our Catholic Educational Institutions to remain resolute and not feel unduly intimidated by threat of sanctions. We expect our Heads to continue to manage our schools in ways and practices that are in conformity with our Catholic identity and mission,” read a statement signed by Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Bishop Of Konongo-Mampong Diocese.
It all started when President John Mahama made his 2015 State of the Nation Address, last week. In his address, Mahama said that “appropriate sanctions” would be taken against any head of institution who acts contrary to the constitutional provisions of Ghana.
Muslims in Ghana have been protesting what they have termed as discrimination against Muslims in schools and work places. They insist that their children should be exempt from Christian prayer sessions at school assembles and that Muslim girls and women should be allowed to wear the hijab or headscarf either to work or school.
Following Mahama’s speech, the Ghanaian Government immediately issued a directive to all institutions to allow Muslims practice their religion without any hindrance.
The Catholic Bishops’ statement is in response to the President’s address:
Below is the message of the Bishops:
STATEMENT FROM THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE ON RELIGIOUS PRACTICES IN MISSION SCHOOLS
We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference have followed with grave concern the recent developments in our dear nation with respect to calls for unregulated religious practices in our schools. We note, in particular, the unwarranted threats of sanction coming from Government circles. Needless, we are stating that no citizen in Ghana should allow him/herself to be cowed down by any intimidation or threat of sanction from any individual.
Assurance to School Heads
Consequently, we wish to assure Heads of our Catholic Educational Institutions to remain resolute and not feel unduly intimidated by threat of sanctions. We expect our Heads to continue to manage our schools in ways and practices that are in conformity with our Catholic identity and mission. Meanwhile, we are open to initiating dialogue that will bring consensus, as early as possible, to resolve these issues amicably.
We join the Christian Council of Ghana in advocating dialogue on the issue at stake. We believe that the Ghana Peace Council has the capacity to deal with this issue in broad consultation with all stakeholders, especially, religious leaders who own and manage the mission schools. Until this is done, we wish to call on government and all other persons to refrain from issuing statements or making pronouncements which may not help in finding a peaceful solution to this issue. Dialogue is the key for in reasoning with others through dialogue, we obtain justice and peace.
Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG &
PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
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