As the world prepares to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation, God becoming man, and the events that followed thereafter, Bishops in the West African nation of Ghana have, in their Christmas message, used the example of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt to seek refuge to highlight the challenges migrants go through and termed as “unchristian and unacceptable any acts of discrimination, stereotyping and physical attacks” against those seeking refuge.
“For many years now, Africans migrating to mostly Europe and America, have had to endure all kinds of discrimination and exploitation and often times, death,” the Bishops stated, noting that the festivities of Christmas bring their “attention to the phenomenon of global migration.”
They added in their December 16 message, “In more recent times, some migrants within some African countries have had to endure similar predicament at the hands of their fellow Africans.”
Recalling the Biblical story where the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Africa (Egypt) for refuge to escape King Herod’s death threats, the Bishops urged Africans in general and Ghanaians in particular to not only rejoice that the continent served as a sanctuary for Jesus Christ but also reciprocate this Scriptural gesture by remaining hospitable to migrants
“We consider it unchristian and unacceptable any acts of discrimination, stereotyping and physical attacks on Africans and other people in any part of the world, but particularly in Africa, the continent where the Saviour found refuge,” the Bishops stated in their collective message as Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC).
The Prelates urged, “leaders of the continent to work together to find appropriate and acceptable ways of resolving such occurrences!”
Ghana faces the challenge of migration, with many people especially from the Brong Ahafo Region in the southern part of the country migrating to other countries in search of greener pastures but end up facing hardships that sometimes lead to death.
Besides migration issues, Ghana is also preparing for general elections in 2020, a matter that the Bishops also addressed in their collective Christmas message.
In their statement, the Bishops have appealed to political parties and their candidates to “think Ghana first and conduct their campaigns in a manner that is devoid of insults, provocation, mudslinging, name calling and acts of violence.”
“We strongly encourage an issue-based campaign that puts the peace and development of Ghana first,” the Church leaders said, expressing the hope that the Electoral Commission “will organize a free, fair and transparent elections.”
They reminded Ghanaians about the value of the festive season saying, “Christmas becomes meaningful only to the extent that human beings, born in the image and likeness of God, strive each day to live godly lives.”
They added, “The celebration of Christmas therefore is a reminder of the peace that the Son of God has brought to us as well as an invitation to us not only to pray for peace, but more importantly, to desire and actively work for peace in our homes, families, schools, communities, towns and cities, and in our country and the world at large.”
“It is my prayer and that of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference that the coming year will be one filled with God’s protection, peace, joy, and love. May God bless us all as we work together to build a peaceful and prosperous nation,” they concluded in their collective message signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale.