Church in Ghana launches 5-year Laudato sí action program

The Laudato sí action program, an initiative of the Ghana Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) will run from 2022 to 2026. Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Cape Coast emphasizes the importance of changing our mindset from one attitude of exploitation to an attitude of taking charge and protection of our common home.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

The bishops of Ghana, inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis in his encyclical on the care of our common home, have put in place a 5-year Laudato sí action program scheduled to run from 2022 to 2026.

The action program, which will be officially launched on November 24, positions itself as the response of the Ghanaian Church to the Holy Father’s seven-year Laudato sí (LSAP) action platform that he announced to the end of the special anniversary year (May 2020 – May 2021) to celebrate the 5e anniversary of the Laudato si Encyclical. Pope Francis had set up the platform, reminding everyone of the responsibility we have to future generations, and urging the faithful to continue to take responsibility for protecting the earth in the face of impending environmental and social crises.

This latest initiative of the Ghanaian bishops aims to achieve seven Laudato sí Global Goals that focus on responding to the cry of the earth; to respond to the cry of the poor; ecological economy; adoption of sustainable lifestyles; ecological education; ecological spirituality, as well as community engagement and participatory action.

Involve everyone in common efforts

Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Cape Coast is the main promoter of the Laudato sí Platform of Action for the Ghanaian Bishops’ Conference (GCBC). In an interview with Vatican News, he highlighted the 5-year program as an opportunity to put into action and contextualize for Ghanaians, what Pope Francis teaches in his 2015 encyclical.

The Archbishop notes that the five-year program of action resonates with the objectives of the Pope’s Laudato sí platform of action: to promote among the peoples “the awareness that the earth is a gift from God to us, and that we do not are just the keepers of what God has given us. Therefore, we have to make sure that we treasure it and cherish it so that we can pass it on to posterity. “

Even before this latter program, the Church in Ghana had been involved in other initiatives that promote care for the earth, including the Tree Day / Week program aimed at educating school children to take a stand for the earth. protection of the planet. More recently, in April 2021, the Ghanaian government launched the “Green Ghana Project” through which it encouraged faith-based and civil society organizations to get involved in planting 5 million trees this year. Similarly, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference came up with the idea of ​​supporting the Green Ghana Project with an initiative to plant an additional 1 million trees around parishes, schools, hospitals and institutions. religious.

Listen to our interview with Bishop Charles Palmer-Buckle

Changing the state of mind of the faithful

The Laudato sí action program will not be without challenges, the Archbishop said. In particular, he underlines the difficulty of creating a “change of mentality” from an attitude of free exploitation of the land and its resources to their management in a sustainable manner.

To create a mindset shift, he continued, is to get people to see the earth as something to be ‘cultivated’ – to have a religious mindset towards – so that it becomes. “Our home where we meet God and our neighbor,” especially the poor and needy. Instead of seeing poverty only as a lack of food, water or shelter, the Archbishop added, “many overlook the fact that poverty also means not understanding the basic esteem that God has in us. as his children, and that we should be each other. keepers.

If we want to change mentalities, he continued, ”we must evangelize people so that they become people who have good news about nature, good news about their fellow men, good news about skills, the gifts they have. And that we are its custodians, not its masters.

Caring for the land and others is rooted in tradition

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle went on to point out that taking care of our common home, taking care of our neighbors and of human and natural resources are not far from the ancestral spirituality of the ecology of many African peoples and their traditions.

“Our ancestors have always worshiped the waters as the habitat of the divine. They had always looked at forests not in terms of trees but as the habitat of the Spirit of God. They have always looked at the mountains, the rocks, the sea in terms of the divine, ”he said.

However, colonialism and the mode of evangelization received, “did not understand this reverence that our ancestors had towards nature, and through it, [the reverence] they also owed their fellow human beings, “he said, lamenting the loss of a legacy left by ancestors who well managed the gifts of creation and who ensured that” posterity has something to thank and praise God “.

The Archbishop expressed the hope that the 5-year program will demonstrate that “there is no gap between our Christian belief and our traditional attitude or religiosity”. Rather, we can appreciate that God has made us “a kingdom of priests for our God,” and we can grow to maturity – the full stature of Christ – “by taking with us the groaning creation, our alike, men and women. who suffer from poverty, misery and misery “, including those who suffer from the lack” of an attitude of worship and gratitude towards God from creation.

Caritas in collaboration for the Laudato sí program

Caritas, the Church’s charitable organization, is preparing to work with the Ghanaian Bishops’ Conference to achieve the goals of the five-year Laudato sí program of action.

Caritas Ghana chief Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo told Vatican News that Caritas is realigning its ongoing work in the country with the initiative’s seven goals, translating the program of action into a framework. operational. The organization will further explore new areas to address the social and environmental challenges that this will bring.

Listen to our interview with Mr. Samuel Akologo, Head of Caritas Ghana

While expressing his optimism for the task ahead, Mr. Akologo underlined the importance of overcoming internal structural difficulties, to bring religious congregations, secular society groups and other constituent bodies of society to work together towards a common goal. He recalls the post-synodal exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI “Africae munus” in which he exhorted the bishops of Africa to mobilize all the energies of the Church in order to influence the political order and bring about the necessary societal changes. in different domains.

He expresses the hope that the process that the Episcopal Conference has initiated through its Laudato sí Action Program will be a “strategic pastoral plan” and “an impetus to revisit an integrated and coordinated approach to work together” in accordance with the seventh objective of the initiative: community engagement and participatory approaches.

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