In May Father Aniedi Okure will travel to Accra, Ghana to help launch the first pilot project in AFJN’s Empowerment program. AFJN has received initial grant funds from the Institute for Policy Research at Catholic University and Be The Change Foundation to support this initiative.
Accra Catholic Archbishop, Charles Palmer-Buckle, is keen on having his archdiocese as the first pilot site. He has designated his Justice and Peace office to take the lead on the project. Current plans are to base the project at the grassroots level within deaneries. The archdiocese will bring representatives from several parishes for a three-day-training session in civic engagement, community organizing, and the role of Catholic Social Teachings in promoting just governance. Representatives will bring their local community issues forward and receive counsel on advocacy techniques, thus beginning hands-on training for the larger social issues. After the training, a team including the Justice and Peace office and Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) staff and will follow up with participants and look for ways to spread the effort to additional parishes and communities.
With start-up funding now in hand, Father Okure will work with archdiocesan leaders in Accra to develop specific implementation plans and budgets. Staff from SECAM will also be involved in the planning.
Last year SECAM released a pastoral letter titled “Governance, Common Good and Democratic Transitions in Africa.” The pastoral letter sets out principles for fighting corruption and for promoting peaceful democratic transitions in government. It highlights this area as a major priority for the African bishops, particularly in view of the church’s preferential option for the poor, and calls for support for its implementation. AFJN’s new project is designed to do just that.
This article was first published in our January-March Newsletter,
By Michael Murphy, AFJN Consultant