With the cases of COVID-19 rising steadily in the country due to the emergence of Omicron; the new variant, religious leaders have advised the public to take all the necessary precautions during this festive season and beyond.
They urged those who have not taken the vaccines to do so while the wearing of nose masks, washing of hands and social distancing would be observed strictly to prevent a rapid spike in cases.
The religious leaders from the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference(GCBC); the Methodist Church Ghana(MCG); the Anglican Church; the Global Evangelical Church(GEC) ; the Church of Pentecost(COP) ; gave the advice in their separate Christmas messages conveyed through the Ghanaian Times.
They also expressed their views on road accidents; corruption and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ), doom prophecies, stressing the need for these issues to be tackled for national development.
The Most Reverend Philip Naameh, Archbishop of Tamale and President of the GCBC said since there was no end in sight to the pandemic, obeying existing regulations and protocols were still pertinent and ought to be followed religiously even if these tend to limit some of our rights and freedoms.
“Conscious that Christmas is an important time for reunions and gatherings of families and friends, as well as religious and social celebrations and other such festivities, we earnestly implore all to continue to exercise utmost precautions to protect themselves and others during such celebrations within the festive season, always bearing in mind that protection is better than cure and that it pays to be safe than to be sorry,” he said.
Most Rev. Naameh expressed worry over what he described as alarming and unfortunate growing culture of disrespect and insults in Ghana, especially in the political arena and called on all our politicians and citizens to put an end to this rising phenomenon.
He said the conference was gravely disturbed about the resurgence of the age-old Bawku and admonished the fomenters of this conflict and others such as the Doba-Kandiga conflict, also in the Upper East Region to stop their machinations and desist from such actions in the future.
On the recent happenings in Parliament in the aftermath of the presentation of the 2022 Budget, he conveyed relief that efforts were being made by the leadership of the House to find an amicable and lasting solution to the impasse and advised both sides must work together to advance the supreme interest of the nation.
“Besides, we wish to encourage our Government to always seek stakeholder engagements on all important national issues to ensure the smooth implementation of national policies and programmes,” he said.
Most Reverend Naameh encouraged all Christian ministers to desist from giving false prophecies which discredited the Christian church and Jesus Christ and urged all Ghanaians not to allow themselves to be led astray by false prophecies and prophetic utterances.
With over 2,600 lives lost through road traffic accidents alone as of the end of November, he appealed to all drivers, travellers, pedestrians and all road users, to observe all road traffic rules and regulations to ensure safety on our roads and thereby avoid unnecessary accidents and carnage.
“It is the fervent prayer and hope of all of us, members of the G CBC, that the New Year, 2022, would be a year of new beginnings for our dear country, Ghana, and for each and every individual citizen of our blessed land,” he said.
The Most Rev. Dr Paul Kwabena Boafo, the Presiding Bishop of MCG, in his statement said COVID-19 vaccine coupled with the safety protocol was the sure way out of the pandemic.
“I appeal to all and sundry to follow the health and safety protocols and avail themselves for the vaccination. In this season, characterised by family, community, and church gatherings, let us not lose guard but follow the protocols for safety. This is the only way we can avoid another spike after the celebrations of the Christmas and the New Year,” he said.
Most Rev. Boafo said although the year had been a challenging one characterised by high rate of unemployment, spousal killings, road carnage, loss of jobs, decline in businesses and many more issues, Ghanaians had a lot to thank God for, because their redeemer, Jesus Christ lives and he would shine light on the darkness in their lives.
On road safety, the church appealed to transport unions to be disciplined and extra vigilant and observe the Road Safety Regulation to ensure an accident-free Christmas and New Year season.
“Let us make sure all families experience joy, peace and love to the fullest. The carnage on our roads of late is of great concern and must be avoided,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman of the COP, Apostle Eric Nyamekye, said despite the criticism against the date for the celebration of Christmas, it was a season to remember the foundation of the Christianity, retell the redemption story, and renew our commitment to Christ Jesus, the salvation of Christians.
“It does not matter if those who do not know our God do not serve and celebrate Him, but we, the people of God, will celebrate Him now and forevermore. For we know how much He is worth to us,” he said.
As we enter the year 2022 by God’s grace, Apostle Nyamekye encouraged Ghanaians not to be apprehensive of what the New Year has for them.
“We should not allow the setbacks in 2021 to weigh us down. Rather, let us take advantage of the lessons learned and use them as springboards into the future as we take stock of our lives. May we strive to correct the errors of the past and resolve to do things differently in the year ahead,” he said.
The Right Reverend DrSetorwuKwadzoOfori, Moderator of the GEC, reminded the public that Jesus was the reason for the celebration and in view of the celebrations should be in moderation and to the Glory of God.
“Drivers should exhibit the highest sense of caution during this season to avoid the loss of lives,” he said.
In the spirit of the season, he called on all the citizens and philanthropists to reciprocate God’s love for mankind by reaching out to the less privileged in the society.
On Behalf of the Anglican Church, Right Reverend Dr Daniel Sylvanus Torto Anglican Bishop of Accra, said Christians needed to become better people living in peace and love with our neighbours during and after this season.
He said the feast of Christmas should challenge Christians to avoid a whole lot of immoral acts including stealing, armed robbery, bribery, drunkenness and reckless driving as these things were destroying the country.
“We must also avoid permissiveness and casual sex, and sexual preferences which leads to a heighten immorality within the country. The promotion of the LGBTQ should be avoided in our Ghanaian community. Our faith frowns on it and our culture also frowns on it. Therefore we pray parliament to do the needful and not to give it a foothold within our society,” he said.
Rt Rev.Tortoappealed to all to avoid bribery and corruption which is so pervasive in the country.
“It is now a canker, and this is as a result of sheer greed within the citizenry. From the politicians, the pastors, the government system, civil servants and even the ordinary Ghanaian is liable. We complain about corruption, but when it’s our turn to lead and bring the necessary change, we do the same.
“Shared greed and selfishness has become our downfall. We always think about ourselves and the capital we can raise out of every situation. In our selfishness, we have been corrupt as a nation and we have made money our God,” he said.
As we end2021, Rt Rev.Tortourged the citizenry to repent from these things and ask God for forgiveness in order to attract his blessing, saying “Corruption indeed militates against national development. Let us therefore avoid it for our national interest and development.”
He urged the public to be modest in their celebration as we keep in mind that COVID -19 is still with us and now a new variant is also around. Let us continue to observe the protocol to remain safe.
BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI & JONATHAN DONKOR