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Opinions of Sunday, 16 March 2014

Columnist: Tsuo, Cedric

Oh God, Grant Us Divine Wisdom!

I am on my knees in deep supplication to God. Nowadays, it is fashionable for Ghanaian politicians and clergymen publicly to seek the divine intervention of God in all sorts of questionable circumstances. The last and present NDC governments took certain major economic decisions, e.g., the ill-thought through Single Spine Pay Policy. That decision was based not on affordability. It was driven by political expediency to win votes. Those decisions have contributed to Ghana’s out-of-control deficit and to the weakening of the Cedi. Then a clergyman got up and prayed to God to strengthen, or better, to resurrect the moribund Cedi! (I think it was the same clergyman who once boasted that his congregation’s Sunday collection was not enough even to buy his archbishop’s ring!).
As if that was not crazy enough, Nana Akufo Addo arrived back from a six-month hibernation in London only to tell us that while there he had sought God’s advice over his political future and that God had duly obliged. However, he declined to divulge God’s message to him until he consulted NPP elders (Ghanaweb, 6 March 2014). Nana Akufo Addo didn’t say he would simply inform NPP elders of God’s wishes for him. On the contrary, he said he would consult them. The word “consult” means seeking information or advice (from someone with expertise in a particular area) before taking a course of action. Surely, if the Almighty God gave him the answer to his prayers what need is there for consultation? Are NPP elders mightier than God? What would Nana do if Party elders advised him contrary to the wishes of God, as revealed to him? All these talks sound a bit daft to me, if not loony.
Now, I am on my knees for entirely different reasons. I am praying to God to bestow His divine guidance on the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. I am a Catholic. I attended Catholic schools from kindergarten right up to Sixth Form. If, in the unlikely event, I left ever my Church, I would not join another faith. I would seek my own way to Abraham’s bosom when my turn comes. I am praying because our Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, while reacting to Uganda’s recent legislation criminalising homosexuality, was quoted as saying that “homosexuals are not criminals” and that they should not be sentenced for up to life in prison (Ghanaweb, 5 March 2014).
As a Roman Catholic, I am ill at ease with the Cardinal’s comment. If homosexuality is not a crime, is it in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church a sin? If it is a sin, why is it so? If it is not a sin, what is it then? I just wonder which criminal offences, as defined by law made by temporal rulers, does the Church consider as sins. Let me put my uneasiness in practical terms. If I went into a confessional and Cardinal Turkson was sitting behind the screen and I confessed to him that I had committed a homosexual act with a consenting adult and also that I had stolen, slaughtered and eaten somebody’s a goat. Would he bless me for my homosexual act (or ignore it) and would he ask me to do penance for stealing a goat? (Some Ghanaian judges are known to have sentenced people who steal a goat to 40 years in prison! I wonder whether the Cardinal has had concern about the severity of those sentences the same way he disapproved of the severity of President Musevi’s law.)
I am also uneasy because both the Old and the New Testaments are replete with references to God’s extreme anger over homosexuality, to the extent that He rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes. My question therefore is the following: how does the Church of Rome interpret those writings in the Holy Bible that talk of homosexuality as an “abomination”? Pope Francis’s famous or infamous shrug-of-the-shoulder remark about homosexuals with “who am I to judge” is a fudge. It will not wish the problem away, especially so when the Holy Bible is so clear about it. The Church would have to take a clear and unambiguous position on it. I wonder the Church is preparing the ground to use the outcome of the world-wide family survey that the Pope launched this year to engage in revisionist interpretation of the Holy Bible? That would be the thin end of the wedge.
There are other troubling questions. Recent investigations in countries like the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and the United States reveal long and wide-spread homosexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, some in high positions in the Church, of young boys, some from within institutions that local Churches run. Some people have attributed these horrific criminal acts to the Church’s rule on priestly celibacy. This may or may not be the only reason, as this deviant behaviour is found also among laymen, even among those in heterosexual relations. Nevertheless, the Church has been implacably opposed to any change or relaxation of that rule. Is sexual abuse of young boys a criminal offence only because temporal powers have made it so or because the victims are innocent and trusting children? Would it be all right for priests to develop homosexual relations with each other? To my mind, these are weighty questions for the Church. Oh Roma! quo vadimus?!
Let us pray. Our Heavenly Father your Church on Earth now lives in a turbulent secular world. Your Church is buffeted by tsunami waves of secularism. Those whom You have placed at the helm to steer Your Church through these ravaging waters need extra and mightier hand on the rudder. Oh Lord, we know that You alone can provide that hand. We pray that You grand the rulers of the Church divine wisdom and courage to lead us in these turbulent times according to Your Holy Book. We pray for this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. AMEN.