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Church Advocates For Youth

Aug 19, 2009, 7:11 AM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The recently concluded AECAWA Meeting of West African Catholic clergy, advocated for Youth on the theme 'youth and migration'. This was seen as their last English speaking Bishops conference as AECAWA gives way to RECOWA comprising the French and English speaking West African Bishops. In their final communiqué, they advocated for you as the Chairman H.E. Peter Cardinal Tuckson, Archbishop of Cape Coast says below:

Unemployment and other Social Ills

The 1994 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops called on African governments to establish the appropriate policies needed to increase economic growth and investment in order to create new jobs. This involves the commitment to pursue sound economic policies, adopting the right priorities for the exploitation and distribution of often scarce national resources in such a way as to provide for people's basic needs, and to ensure an honest and equitable sharing of benefits and burdens (cf. EIA 113). The Church must partner with governments to eradicate unemployment and create jobs, both in the rural and urban areas that would keep the youth from the temptation of deserting homes. In this regard we appeal to our universities and other tertiary institutions to be more responsive to the job market and review their curricula accordingly.

Both governments and the Church must take a very strong view of the frightening and increasing phenomena of child labour, drug trafficking and human trafficking especially of women and children that are showing their disastrous heads in the region. Countries within the region must seek to eradicate certain social evils and criminal activities such as armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution and political intolerance that may be prevalent so as to prevent their spreading into countries that otherwise do not have them.

On the positive side, governments and the Church should embark on a programme of cultural, educational and sporting exchanges. This we hope will help to create better understanding among our youth and a deeper appreciation of the cultural heritage of the West African region.


Formation of Youth

The Church in our region as part of a universal community of faith and love, where there is no freeman or slave, should make use of its Formation Centres: our Seminaries, both Minor and Major,  our Catholic Universities, Youth Leadership Formation Centres, our Pastoral and Catechetical Centres, to break the colonial legacy of linguistic barrier and to correct our history to let our youth know that we are West Africans, first and foremost, and will remain so before being categorized as "Francophone" or "Anglophone" or "Lusophone".


With the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, "we know very well that youth are not only the present but above all the future of humanity. It is thus necessary to help young people to overcomer obstacles thwarting their development: illiteracy, idleness, anger, drugs. In order to meet these (challenges, we urge young people themselves to become Evangelisers of their peers" (ETA 93). We consider pastoral care for youth to be part of the overall pastoral plan of our dioceses and parishes) so that young people will be able to discover very early the value of the gift of self and essential means for the person to reach maturity. In this regard, we consider the celebration of the World Youth Day as a privileged instrument for the pastoral care of youth which favours their formation through prayer, study and reflection.


We consider certain types of forced migration as new forms of slavery. While we abhor all forms of hatred and inhuman treatment directed towards migrants in any part of the world, we are greatly disturbed by the new form of xenophobia and racism directed in a selected manner to migrants 1 from Africa. In some parts of Europe for instance, some public officials are reported to have made statements aimed at instigating hatred towards migrants of African origin. We deplore in very strong terms those utterances that could lead to the violation of basic human rights of migrants and we call for a more hospitable, accommodating and humane attitude from all host communities. We urge the faithful in our different local Churches to be welcoming to people from other nations and make them feel at home. We call upon the faithful to develop good Christian families in which the children are formed by the principles of the gospel of Christ and are given enough opportunities to be able to overcome the temptation of leaving home for economic reasons when they are not adequately prepared for it.



Now we would like to address a word to our youth. We know that "the economic situation of poverty has a particular negative impact on the young. They embark on adult life with very little enthusiasm for a present riddled with frustrations and they look with still less hope to a future which to them seems sad and sombre. That is why they tend to flee the neglected rural areas and gather in cities which in fact do not have much more to offer them. Many of them go to foreign countries where, as if in exile, they live a precarious existence as refugees" (EIA 115).

Dear young people, we your pastors consider it a duty to plead your cause: it is urgently necessary to find a solution to your eagerness to take part in the life of the nation and of the Church. But at the same time we also wish to appeal to you to take in hand the development of your countries, to love the culture of your people, and to work for its renewal with fidelity to your cultural heritage through a sharpening of your scientific and technical expertise and above all through the witness of your Christian faith. (cf. EIA 115)

As pastors, we advise you to obtain genuine documents when you have to travel outside your country and also not to use unlawful and dangerous means such as stowing away, using clandestine routes across the Sahara Desert, etc. Before you go to improve your education, you should be sure you have the requisite qualification for admission into an educational institution and the means to look after yourselves. You should abide by the laws of the countries you travel lawfully to. Alter your studies, you should return home to contribute to the development of your nations. Never should you go abroad for wrong reasons, such as drug peddling, prostitution, joining criminal gangs to steal or money laundering.

We invite students in our educational institutions at different levels in the region to initiate cultural exchanges among themselves in order to curtail this morbid psychological fear of immigrants.



In conclusion we invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa and Help of Christians, for God's blessings on our efforts to prepare our youth for their future responsibilities in Church and society.