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Religion of Thursday, 27 December 2012

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Many have lost import of Christmas - Catholic Bishops

The Catholic Bishops Conference has expressed concern about the commercialisation and secularisation of Christmas celebration.

In a Christmas and New Year message, the bishops said, “The feast of Christmas these days has been so commercialised and secularised that many people have lost sight of its religious significance.”

In the message, signed by the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference and Bishop of Konongo-Mampong, Most Rev Joseph Osei-Bonsu, the bishops said Christmas marked the birth of Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world, adding that when humankind lost God’s favour because of sin, it took Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection to restore the broken relationship between man and God.

The birth of Christ at Christmas, they said, also marked the beginning of the process of restoration of the broken relationship and the beginning of the process of the salvation of humankind.

In the birth of Christ, they said, God came to be with mankind not just in spirit but in the flesh, and for that reason, Christ is said to be Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’.

“Christmas is about the incarnation, about God taking on human flesh, about God becoming a human being”, the bishops said.

The clergy said although it was more than 2000 years since Christ left physically for heaven, the peace that he spoke of had remained an elusive phenomenon in the world today, as mankind continued to live in a world plagued by all kinds of problems, including wars, even in the Middle East where he was born.

“In our own country right now, we are facing severe post-election challenges. Members of rival political parties have been attacked. Innocent people, including journalists and other media personnel doing their work, have also suffered attacks”, the message noted.

The conference urged all political leaders, especially those of the two major parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to talk to their supporters to put an end to all violence.

The bishops also underscored the need for all priests, ministers, pastors and all other religious leaders to let the message of peace be part of their preaching in the next few weeks, stressing that the time had come for every Ghanaian to make peace a reality.

“We should always remember that we have only one country called Ghana, and that this country is the only home that we have. We should, therefore, ensure that there is peace in this dear country of ours now that the elections are over. We do not want to experience post-election violence or war”, they appealed.

The bishops said that there were a number of countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire that had experienced post-election violence resulting in the loss of human lives, adding, “We do not want to share in the unpleasant experience of the people living in countries where there are conflicts. We do not want to be refugees in our neighbouring countries”.

The bishops conference, therefore, appealed to Ghanaians, especially politicians, to avoid actions and inflammatory utterances that had the potential to incite people to violence and war and protect the peace that the country was enjoying.

The message said as Christians celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, there was the need for all to strive to make peace a reality and not a mere dream.

“Christmas is about peace, since we celebrate the feast of Christ, the Prince of Peace. For us Christians, Christ is the Prince of Peace spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah”, the message said.