IVORY COAST: Bishops Express Concern over Religious Intolerance

ASSINIE, APRIL 11, 2017(CISA) – Catholic Bishops from the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA/CERAO) has warned against religious intolerance in the region.

The bishops called for religious tolerance among other challenges facing communities in the region to be addressed.

The bishops spoke in  a statement issued April 4 at the end of the 5th Standing Committee Meeting March 28- 31, in Assinie addressed to the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,

The bishop said that West Africa was facing religious intolerance; unemployment among the youth; the menace of marauding herdsmen among other pastoral challenges and needed to be addressed urgently.

During the meeting, the bishops deliberated on the challenge of youth unemployment including these youth’s high risk of exposure to trafficking, drug abuse, violence and forced migrations.

“Religious intolerance and extremism pose a serious threat to the right of every citizen to freely choose and practice the religion of his or her choice,” said the bishops in a statement read by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of RECOWA/CERAO.

“The recurrence of natural and man-made disasters such as floods, storms, and other humanitarian crises related to climate change has become a serious threat to human and animal survival…while there is freedom of movement of people and goods in our region, we appeal to our authorities to effectively address this particularly destructive activity of herdsmen,” added the bishops.

The regional body of Catholic Bishops met under the theme, The New Evangelization and its Challenges for the Church, Family of God in West Africa: the Role of the Bishops in the prevention, mediation, resolution and transformation of conflicts.

The bishops further appealed to political leaders in office to respect the rule and avoid frequent human rights violations and tortures.

“We are worried about political leaders who employ extra-democratic means to remain in power for life, we appeal to our political authorities to respect the democratic tenets of their countries,” the bishops stated.

RECOWA/CERAO brings together Catholic Bishops from 15 countries of West Africa, which include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali,Mauritania, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Senegal, The Gambia, and Togo.

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