The President of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice at the Vatican, His Eminence Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, has called on Ghanaians to make the necessary sacrifices now to make the Ghana of the future be born.
“Without that, it is going to be difficult. Some politicians, by nature, are shortsighted. That is why we need a decent national vision to direct this shortsightedness of politicians so that we can get somewhere,” he told the Daily Graphic in an interview on the sidelines of a two-day conference by the Catholic Church.
“I am glad the other day the government inaugurated a 40-year plan. Kwame Nkrumah gave us a seven-year development plan which gave us the Akosombo Dam, Tema and others. I hope the 40-year plan gets us something. If you want, I will pray for it,” he said.
According to him, the pursuit of a long-term national vision to make the country economically strong was the only way to resist negative foreign influences, stressing that poorly formulated visions based on political party manifestos would not get the nation anywhere.
He urged African countries to address the problem of mass migration of their citizens to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats to seek greener pastures.
He noted that many African migrants either drowned in the sea in their bid to get to Europe or were attacked on the Sahara Desert across which they travelled to board the boats and wondered why governments on the continent had remained silent when thousands of their citizens died in search of better lives.
The two-day conference, dubbed “Pro-life”, was organised by the Catholic Church to lay emphasis on its position on issues which detract from promoting life.
The church believes that anything that detracts from promoting life, such as abortion and euthanasia, must be frowned upon in the strongest terms and that even in death, each person still characterises the image of God and ought to be treated with dignity.
Cardinal Turkson’s position
Cardinal Turkson said it was the responsibility of every government on the continent to protect the lives of its citizens, whether they were home or abroad, and added that the migrants who fled the continent were “human capital undeveloped and not invested in”.
He said centuries after the slave trade had been abolished, millions of Africans were travelling to the developed world to be slaves again by engaging in menial jobs and in some cases just roaming the towns and cities of Europe seeking non-existent jobs.
“We see our citizens crossing the Sahara to get to Europe and being attacked by Bedouins and dying. We see them crossing the Mediterranean and drowning.
And for those who survive, it is the European Union which is struggling to take care of them. What are our governments saying? What are they doing about it?” he asked.
Cardinal Turkson juxtaposed the attitude of African governments towards their citizens in distress abroad to that of governments in the developed world and said countries such as the US would stop at nothing to protect their citizens wherever they were.
“Do you remember the Coptic Christians killed in Libya recently? Do you know there was a Ghanaian among them? How about the drug traffickers sentenced to death in Indonesia? Do you know one of them was a Ghanaian? Why has our government not said anything about these two incidents,” he asked.
“Even if a Ghanaian commits a crime outside the country, he is still a Ghanaian and needs to be protected,” he added.
Life, Cardinal Turkson said, was important and added that every citizen, no matter his educational, social or economic status and no matter where he or she found himself or herself, needed to be protected or/ and supported.
Turning the spotlight on the conference, he said the Pro-life concept encouraged people to respect life, even in its most difficult forms.
He said even if one was suffering from a deformity or was terminally ill, he or she needed to be supported to live life to the full.
“And life begins from conception. So the church does not believe in abortion. We do not believe in contraception. We do not believe in the death penalty.
From the point of view of the church, life is sacrosanct. Life can be affected by anything such as deficiencies, deformities and other things but once one is born, he is born. He is not less human. Every life is created by God,” he said.
Speakers at the conference
The Vice-President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, the Most Rev. Anthony Adanuty, said the time had come for the Catholic Church to partner other churches in the country, the Muslim community, as well as some non-governmental organisations, to advocate and speak with one voice in defence of life and family values.
That, he said, was necessary to stem the tide of the emerging culture of death in Ghana.
Rev Adanuty, who is also the Bishop of the Keta/Akatsi Diocese, said over the years Africa in general but most importantly Ghana had witnessed the increasing encroachment of proponents of the culture of death.