DONKORKROM, Ghana — As Ghana witnesses economic hardships, bishops of the country urged people to pray unceasingly for a change in the fiscal situation.

“We appeal to all to pray and continue to make the necessary sacrifices as we look forward to quick interventions that will bring us out of the current difficulty,” said a statement on behalf of the bishops from Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi of Sunyani, the newly elected president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Ghana’s total public debt as of June 2022 was US$54.4 billion, up from $32.3 billion in 2017, according to central bank and finance ministry data. The nation’s inflation rate rose from 37.2 percent in September to 40.4 percent in October.

Opening the eight-day bishops’ meeting in mid-November, Archbishop Philip Naameh, immediate past president of the conference, said, “Poverty and hardship are on the increase despite the interventions the church has made to the economic life of the people.”

He said the changes being experienced in the cultural, political, social and economic situations in Ghana present a serious challenge to Christians.

“We also observe that some of our members still patronize the services of witch doctors for solutions to their problems,” Naameh said, adding, “It appears the love of money has deafened some of our faithful to the message of Christ and blinded them to the needs of the poor, who are affected by their activities.”

He spoke of Christians’ “uncontrollable appetite for wealth” and the “widening gap between the rich and the poor. We find children on our streets begging for alms.”

“Amidst all the show of religiosity, coupled with the fact that our Sunday and other church services are well patronized, we still witness an increasing attitude of indifference to the message of Christ among our people.”

“Today, the principle of ‘the end justifies the means’ has taken a grip on some Ghanaians, who think it does not matter how one gets what he or she wants,” he said.

“The virtue of honesty seems to be forgotten, especially by the younger generation.”

Ghana scored 43 points out of 100 on the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.

Naameh said Christian witness “has diminished; even the few who want to show their faith sometimes lack the courage to do so.”

“This situation of Ghana presents a complex challenge, a roadblock to the evangelizing mission of the church,” he noted, adding, “Our country is experiencing a growing shift away from the Gospel message in the lives of people.”

Naameh also said politics in the West African country splits Catholics part on partisan lines. “This is making it difficult for us also to speak with one voice,” he said.