KOFORIDUA, Ghana — The papal nuncio to Ghana told religious superiors that with the country’s diminishing number of Catholics, “we have to renew our lives and our communities.”
Archbishop Henryk Jagodzinski spoke to the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious about spiritual ways to do this, but also had some concrete suggestions.
Answering questions from the major superiors on the reported dwindling Catholic population in Ghana Oct. 12, the nuncio said, “Catholic Churches are hidden.” He said when people travel through the country, they see mosques and ads and information about other Christian churches, “but not much information about Catholics’ presence.”
The archbishop said the church needs to intensify its visibility. For example, he said, parishes could have loudspeakers to amplify the sound of bells rung during the Angelus.
The national censuses over the past few decades in Ghana show a decrease in the percentage of Catholics in the country.
Ghana’s 2010 census puts the Catholic population at 13.1%, a drop of 2% from the 2000 census.
However, the 2021 census showed the Catholic population had dropped to 10%. Pentecostal and charismatic Christians were the largest religious group in Ghana, reaching a share of 31.6%. Nearly 20% of the country is Muslim.
Jagodzinski also told the superiors to have their congregations embrace Jesus for renewal.
“When the arms of a consecrated man or woman do not embrace Jesus, they embrace a vacuum which they try to fill with other things, but it remains a vacuum,” he said.
“When we fail to take Jesus into our arms, our hearts fall prey to bitterness. It is sad to see religious who are bitter, closed up in complaining about things that never go right, in a rigidity that makes them inflexible, in attitudes of supposed superiority,” he said.
“If we embrace Christ with open arms, we will also embrace others with trust and humility,” he said, adding that then conflicts would not escalate, disagreements would not divide, and the temptation to dominate and offend others would be overcome.
“Let us ask ourselves what moves our hearts and actions, what renewed vision are we being called to cultivate, and above all else, let us take Jesus into our arms,” he said.