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Look to families as a new, or ancient, model of church, Ghana bishops say

ACCRA, Ghana — The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of life in Ghana and caused the church to rethink its current model, the nation’s bishops said at the end of their fall meeting.

The pandemic, the West African prelates said, offered an opportunity to revisit the concept of the “domus ecclesia,” (the domestic church), which was the feature of the first three centuries of Christianity.

“Here in Ghana, when parishes could not meet, the family quickly reemerged as the most resilient unit of the church. A post-COVID-19 church will do well to reengage this model of church and expend the necessary resources to promote and strengthen the Christian family as the building block of the parish community and society,” the bishops said in their Nov. 13 message at the end of their meeting in Wa.

“The experience of COVID-19 calls for a radical appraisal of every pastoral strategy and a rethinking of every missionary engagement,” they said. They noted the increase in streaming services and said the inability to be physically present should no longer be an obstacle to participation in the life of the parish community.

Opening the meeting Nov. 8, Archbishop Philip Naameh, president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, spoke on how education and health sectors — of which the Catholic Church is a major stakeholder — had been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And with churches closed, parishes could not take up collections.

“Salaries of church workers still had to be paid and other financial obligations met. This has left many parishes financially insolvent,” Naameh said.

In the health sector, Naameh said, “infrastructure had been stretched to breaking point.” And despite the measures put in place to fight the pandemic, he noted, “the country continues to record COVID-19 deaths, with new strains of the virus, including the delta variant, currently on the upward trajectory.”

The bishops also asked those who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine to do so to protect their lives and those of others and appealed to the government to sustain its efforts to procure more vaccines for the citizens.

Church officials also warned against “conspiracy theories shared on social media platforms” that cast doubts about the reality of the pandemic.


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