Home News Violent extremism: Catholic Bishops’ Conference promotes peace and cohesive society

Violent extremism: Catholic Bishops’ Conference promotes peace and cohesive society

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General News of Monday, 6 May 2024

Source: GNA

The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference is embarking on a project to promote peace and build a cohesive society in response to the looming threats of violent extremism in the West African Sub-region.

The Conference, with funding from Catholic Relief Services (CRS), has been training religious leaders in inter-religious dialogue as a strategy to counter violent extremism.

It is part of an initiative dubbed the “Sahel Peace Initiative,” which is also being implemented by bishops of four other countries, including Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

As part of the initiative, a second cohort of religious leaders has been trained at Ejisu in the Ashanti Region, following similar training held in Tamale in the Northern Region.

Participants were drawn from the Inter-Religious Dialogue Commission of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Cape Coast and Kumasi.

They included representatives from the three main Islamic sects, Protestant Christian Churches, Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches, and the Catholic Church.

The Reverend Father Michael Quaicoe, Head of Governance, Justice and Peace at the National Catholic Secretariat, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the training was part of the church’s strategy to mobilise religious leaders as a united front against extremist views and actions.

He said every religion inherently sought to promote peace; hence, enhancing the understanding of religious leaders on peace and forging a network of leaders would build a fortress that could not be easily exploited in the name of religion.

“All those who call themselves extremists are people who exploit religious sentiments as a vehicle. So, if we are able to help our people to understand that we have a role to play to overcome it, then we would have done our bit to empower not only our minds but also our hearts to fight anything that is inimical to our unity, common purposes, and the prosperity of our people,” he observed.

Dr Zakaria Zaka, the Lead Facilitator for the training, said Muslims and Christians were more united than they knew because they share a lot in common as far as religion is concerned.

“We have one Almighty God; we believe that God has created heaven and earth; we believe in charity and fasting, so the concept is almost the same. The only difference is how we practice our religion,” the Islamic scholar pointed out.

He underlined the importance of working together as religious leaders with common needs for health, education, and social infrastructure.

The Sahel Peace Initiative, which is the Catholic Church’s response to the unprecedented violence being meted out to civilians in the Sahel Region, is adopting country-specific strategies based on local contexts.

In Ghana, the strategy is to tackle the spillover of insecurity from the Sahel with funding and technical support from CRS.

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