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The Church in Ghana: Latest Victim of the Corporatocracy

A devout (“not even the Pope is more Catholic than I am”) and involved lay Catholic, Yaw Owusu-Brefo, wrote an article, “The Eroding Stature of the Catholic Church in Contemporary Ghana.”  It was listed in the National Catholic Reporter’s Morning Briefing for July 6, 2011.

Being destitute has kept many areas of Asia and Africa free from Vatican interference.  Unfortunately for the Catholics of Ghana, that is no longer the case. Owusu-Brefo listed the following changes where the infusion of money is “sinking the image and relevance of the Catholic Church in Ghana” and is “contributing to the eroding relevance of the Catholic Church and losing appeal to the youth.”

In recent times a bishop has been accused of owning a property at Trasacco Valley. The veracity of that accusation is questionable but for those who have chosen to acquire property secretly, the question the Church needs to ask them is who are they acquiring these properties for – children sacrilegiously fathered or girlfriends unknown to their celibate vows?

What we see lately is a flamboyant lifestyle by some priests. Some priests live individually in mansions…. some own businesses, taxis and the like.

Some churches have pastoral councils which help the priests in managing the church administration including its finances but more often than not the priest have their way in decisions regarding the disbursement of the church money because the pastoral councils that assist them only have advisory capacities.

Recently some of the Church’s hospitals are reeling under bad management because some of the bishops have put several levies on the hospitals as if they were profit making outfits. These levies are payable to the Diocesan Offices to support the burgeoning lifestyle that is creeping into the church administration but are ultimately borne by the poor patient who is at the far end of the equation…. The Sunyani Diocese hasn’t got a good story to tell when it comes to this. The two main hospitals in the Diocese’s control (St Mary’s Hospital in Drobo and Holy Family Hospital in Berekum) are gradually collapsing and the Bishop must be worried. The Diocese has lost the greatest numbers of health staff over the past decade (through resignation and transfers to the Ghana Health Service or other Regions) due to management problems and undue interference from the Bishop…. Should the Church decide to talk to the congregation about all the issues I have raised it would realize it is not only restricted to the hospitals. The schools are all included.

The Catholic University College was started in the Brong Ahafo Region a few years ago by the Catholic Church in Ghana with the intention to open campuses in Accra after the Fiapre campus had reached a certain population. I want someone to tell me what has happened to this noble idea. Divisions within the Bishops Conference which is not so visible physically has not helped to direct any concerted effort towards the university. With the kind of numbers the Church has and the patronage it gets for its institutions, this university should have been one of the leading private universities in Ghana now. [Meanwhile] the current Accra campus of the University at Tantra Hill (Catholic Institute of Business and Technology) is known to have been started by a business man obviously with the support of some priests.

It was this last sentence which caught my attention since Opus Dei is noted for its worldwide network of college-level business schools (from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the government)  located in countries where they have hopes to, or already, dominate economic policy.

By 2005, Opus Dei had a total of 608 education-related institutions: schools and university residences, technical or agricultural training centers, universities, business schools and hospitals. Opus Dei supports 14 graduate business schools worldwide, including Lagos Business School in Nigeria and Ipade in Mexico. 

 At last count (2006) Opus Dei had close to a hundred institutions, student residences or foundations in the US, many located near prestigious schools.

Knowing  nothing about African affairs, I checked and found, “Ghana to Lead Africa in Oil Production” dated June 18, 2011.   In an address to the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Initiative in Washington DC, Ghana’s vice-president “said since the discovery of oil in commercial quantities at the Jubilee Field in 2007, several new discoveries had been made and indicated that there were more reserves to be discovered.”

As I noted in my blog dated June 10, 2011:

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez for many years had been in charge of the large Opus Dei chapter in Houston, Texas, corporate headquarters for the US petro-chemical industry. The current ordinary of the Galveston-Houston archdiocese, Daniel DiNardo, is the only cardinal so far in the Southern United States.

It goes without saying that the Catholic Church has no influence in the Middle East, but all the areas in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa tied to large oil production will have strong, conservative prelates if they don’t already.

My sympathies to the Catholics of Ghana. Your problems are just beginning.



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