The Catholic Church needs to continue promoting the reconciliation process
By Reinhard Backes, ACN International
Adapted by ACN Canada
Ivory Coast needs to be in a continual process of reconciliation. This was the message of Father Alphonse N‘guessan, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Ivory Coast, during a recent visit to the international headquarters of the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Since the mid-1990s there have been a succession of civil-war-type conflicts in this West African nation, most recently following the presidential elections in 2010. However, there is an “effort at reconciliation,” adds Father Alphonse. “Even during the war there were contacts between representatives of the churches and the Muslims, and there continue to be regular, ongoing meetings; there are also informal contacts with politicians, which help to serve the cause of peace.”
Despite all these efforts however, more needs to be done in order to achieve a genuine reconciliation, says Father Alphonse. “The conflicts in the country are political in nature, so they are not religious clashes. The Catholic Church can and should continue making her contribution towards finding a solution, because she enjoys widespread respect in the country,” he adds. According to Father N‘guessan, approximately 35% of the 20 million Ivorians are Christians, while roughly a third are Muslims and the remaining third belong to traditional African religions. However, there are no reliable official statistics. “The last national census was over 10 years ago,” he told ACN.
The Catholic Church in Ivory Coast is divided into 15 dioceses, manned predominantly by native Ivorian clergy. The task of the pontifical mission societies in Ivory Coast, which is coordinated by Father Alphonse, is the promotion of pastoral initiatives for the proclamation of and formation in the Catholic faith. ACN is supporting its work with a contribution of $35,400 .