The President of National Union of Ghana Catholic Diocesan Priests' Association (NUGDPA), Reverend Father Richard Kyeremeh, has said that the unbridled quest for material wealth with its attendant vices such as self-centeredness, immorality, wickedness have negatively affected efforts at nation building.
“While some patriotic citizens were doing their best to make Ghana a peaceful modern nation, others were busy tearing it apart with unprincipled greed for material wealth, political power and bestial sexual drive,” he added.
Rev. Kyeremeh expressed these sentiments on Wednesday at the opening session of the 21st NUGDPA congress at Holy Child School in Cape Coast under the theme “Fifty Years of Independence. The Impact of Ghanaian Catholic Diocesan Priests in Nation Building: Challenges and Prospects.”
The Congress, attended by 450 priests, six Archbishops and Bishops and representatives of societies in the church, drawn from all the 18 Catholic Dioceses in the country would provide the priests an opportunity to take stock of their achievements, critically examine their shortfalls and strategically plan for the future.
Topics to be treated included “The indiscriminate quest for material wealth”, “HIV/AIDS Scare”, “Importation and use of hard drugs”, “corruption”, “Unemployment among the youth”, “Indiscipline and moral decadence in the society”.
Rev. Kyeremeh pointed out that for any nation to stand the test of time, it must be built on sound spiritual and moral foundation and gave the assurance that diocesan priests in Ghana would continue to sensitize Ghanaians so that together they would build the nation on the foundation of peace, justice, liberty and fraternity.
“These are the values of the Kingdom of God and as priests, we are duty bound to proclaim them to all Ghanaians,” he added.
Rev. Kyeremeh said diocesan priests in Ghana for the past 50 years had seen, heard and felt the joy and sorrow, the determination, frustration, the struggle and expectation, disappointment and comfort of the flock they had been ordained to lead and had translated these sets of experiences into outreach programmes to provide hope for all.
Sir Fosuaba Akwasi Mensah Banahene, Administrator of GETFUND, underscored the important role the first missionaries, the Catholic Church and priests continued to play in the socio-economic development of the nation.
He noted that about 20 percent of public schools at the basic school level, 10 out of the 21 public Senior Girls Secondary Schools, 40 per cent of the 22 public Boys schools, 58 vocational and technical institutes and a university were built by the church.
On health, Sir Fosuaba said it was the Catholic Church which had 106 health facilities, including 32 hospitals that started the Health Insurance Scheme before Government got involved.
He said in spite of the huge success the church had chalked in education, health, job creation and provision of credit facilities, it was saddled with moral decadence in the society and expressed concern about the negative influence “modern communication facilities” such as the internet and television had on the public especially the youth.
Sir Fosuaba expressed concern about the adulteration of Ghanaian cultures by foreign cultures that was affecting the society and asked the priests to use the congress to evolve pragmatic measures to address the situation.
He urged them to ensure reconciliation, peace and justice, undertake more charity work, and have respect for their bishops as they enter the 50th year in Ghana's history. He later donated 100 million cedis to the association to train its members.
Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast Diocese, stressed the need for priests to appreciate efforts of the first missionaries who had to sacrifice their lives for the Church in Ghana and urged them to emulate their examples by sacrificing for the church.
Mr Daniel Batidam, Executive Secretary of Ghana Integrity Initiatives, said Catholic Priests were partners in development and said as they evangelized to the congregations, it was important for them to factor in the issue of corruption to enable the public know much about it to help address corruption.
Mr Batidam again urged them to take care of the needs of retired priests and form more laity councils in the parishes.
Nana Ato Arthur, Central Regional Minister, pledged Government's support to priests and urged them to live up to their task of leading the flock.