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Churches urged to be security conscious

BY: Biiya Mukusah Ali
Most Reverend Phillip Naameh, President of the GCBC, speaking during the conference
Most Reverend Phillip Naameh, President of the GCBC, speaking during the conference

Religious institutions have been urged to be security conscious to detect suspicious characters who may infiltrate their ranks as terrorists.

The Bono Regional Minister, Justina Owusu-Banahene, said social gatherings — including religious services — were targets of terrorists.

She, therefore, urged religious bodies to partner the government and the security agencies to sensitise their members to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.

Ms Owusu-Banahene was speaking at the opening of this year’s Episcopal Conference of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) in Sunyani last Tuesday.

The four-day conference is dubbed: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.

Security concern

Ms Owusu-Banahene said the growing trend of terrorism within the West African sub-region was of great national security concern to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as the chairperson of ECOWAS, the West African economic bloc.

She said the activities of terrorists were intended to cause instability in the sub-region, cause fear among the public and derail the progress of governments in their development efforts.

A section of the participants at the opening ceremony of the GCBC in Sunyani.

She, therefore, advised the public to embrace the “See Something, Say Something Campaign,” and be one another’s keeper to prevent the activities of terrorists from spreading into the country.

Church and state

Ms Owusu-Banahene expressed the government’s appreciation to the religious institutions for the role they had played in the socio-economic development of the country over the years, stressing particularly that in modern times, the Catholic Church had demonstrated that it was a true and reliable partner of the government in its efforts to improve the standard of living of their people.

She said apart from the church’s core mandate of spiritual upbringing of humanity to attain salvation, its numerous interventions such as the provision of schools, scholarships, health facilities, water and sanitation, relief services and micro credit to its vulnerable members were commendable.

Ms Owusu-Banahene encouraged the church to continue to collaborate with the government to enhance development, explaining that the government alone could not provide the needed development for the country.

She urged the church to imbibe in the youth its socio-cultural values to shape them into complete and responsible adults in the country.

Detecting terrorists

Speaking to journalists after the opening session, the President of the GCBC, Most Reverend Phillip Naameh, said it was crucial to sensitise the public, particularly church members, on how to detect activities of terrorists in order to report to appropriate authorities.

He said the Catholic Church had already started sensitising communities and church members to the activities of terrorists.

Most Rev. Naameh, who is also the Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Tamale, expressed the need for community members to identify strange characters in order to report them to the security agencies.

He charged the public not to delay in reporting strange people with strange characters in their churches, social gatherings and their communities.

The Catholic Bishop of the Sunyani Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, commended the Sunyani Traditional Council, the regional minister and the local organising committee for the smooth organisation of the conference.