Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama has observed that religious co-existence was priceless and asked Ghanaians to resist any attempt to subvert it.
He said: "I believe that our state of religious co-existence is priceless. Therefore anything and I repeat anything that seems to threaten our peace of secularism in the name of political expediency must be condemned with all our strength and all our heart."
Vice President Mahama was speaking at the Papal Award Ceremony at the Holy Spirit Cathedral of the Catholic Church in Accra. Five personalities of the church received various awards from Pope Benedict XVI, under the order of the knighthood of St. Gregory the Great.
The award was instituted on September, 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI as a sign of great reverence and affection towards his predecessor, Pope (St.) Gregory 1 (The Great).
It was meant to confer awards of value, distinction and testimonial honours for distinguished talents and services.
"We, in Ghana should be grateful to God that Christians, Muslims, Animists and several religious sects and beliefs continue to co-exist in peace and poverty irrespective of gender, ethnic or geographical divide," he noted.
Vice President Mahama asked the citizenry not to deviate from the fundamental principle that faith is an intrinsic force that has the capacity to influence individual conduct in public life.
He said the drafters of the Constitution were filled with the wisdom of God to protect and enhance the country's fundamental rights to a life of equity and equality with opportunity to contribute to and share in the Commonwealth, without recourse to sex, religion or ethnicity.
He said: "My brothers and sisters, above all we must praise and thank God for the good fortune of being Ghanaians…It is the exceptional love for each other which will help us to overcome the development challenges of the future in order for us to build a society we can all be proud of, irrespective of wherever we come from and wherever we find ourselves in the service of this blessed nation."
Bishop Lucas Abadamloora, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference asked Christians to nurture the courage to speak the truth in line with the tradition of the Apostles, who had love and concern for the world.
Bishop Charles Palmer Buckle, Archbishop of Accra lauded the Papal Award as an honour to people who have served the church and the nation with distinction.
The winners of the award were Rev. Sister Mary Ancilla, a retired midwife now based in Northern Ireland, Mrs Josephine Rosemary Van Lare, a family planning expert, Mr Benedict Batabie Assorow, a Journalist and Professor George Panyin Hagan, Chairman of the National Commission on Culture.
The ultimate prize, which is the Knight Commander of St. Gregory, went to Sir Knight Henry Paul Nelson, a retired Civil Servant.