CARITAS – GHANA BRINGING THE CI MANAGEMENT STANDARDS TO THEIR BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
The ecclesiastical administration of the Catholic Church in Ghana is located in 20 Dioceses which are clustered around four provinces (Archdioceses). All the 20 Dioceses have either substantive Bishops or Archbishops. There are currently four emeritus Bishops, including one Cardinal who is based in the Vatican as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Consequently, the National Episcopal Conference referred to as the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) has twenty-four (24) members, even though not all are in active service.
The service of charity is at the heart of the Church’s nature and mission. For this reason, the Code of Canon Law, the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops and the Apostolic Letter issued ‘Motu Proprio’ on THE SERVICE OF CHARITY have all placed unequivocal responsibility for the service of charity and its effective organization on the Bishops of the particular churches.
It was therefore appropriate, necessary and desirable to heighten the awareness of the Bishops on the Caritas Internationalis (CI) Management Standards (MS). CI introduced the Management Standards as a means of improving the management of the members of the Caritas Confederation and is to be regarded as a capacity building initiative aimed at sharing knowledge and mutual continuous learning. Management Standards need to be perceived not simply from a management point of view, but as a means which would contribute to planning for holiness, that is at the heart of the Church’s social mission in the perspective of the Gospel values and at the service of the human person as image of God. Specifically, the purpose of the workshop for the Members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference was to help the entire Conference and individual Bishops in their on-going efforts to redefine and strengthen their service to the poor, as part of the important mission of the Church. The National Catholic Secretariat is already earnestly working to implement the Conference’s decision to secure their ownership of and legal backing to the Caritas trademark in Ghana.
The National Catholic Secretariat was blessed to have Dr Aloysius John – Director of Institutional Development and Capacity Strengthening at CI General Secretariat in Rome to facilitate the workshop on 22nd February, 2016. In all, 16 Bishops/Archbishops and 25 Senior Directors of the secretariat of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference attended the workshop. The presentation of Mr Aloysius John made copious references to the ‘Motu Proprio’ on THE SERVICE OF CHARITY, the Kinshasa Declaration of the Bishops of Africa, the Papal Exhortation to the Church in Africa – Africae Munus, Catholic Social Teaching and the Scriptures to establish the rationale and purpose of the CI Management Standards.
The Department of Human Development (DHD) undertook this activity as part of its institutional development and capacity strengthening programme which is currently being accompanied by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Ghana. This is being done as part of our full participation in relevant assessments in the context of the CI Management Standards. There are also important and related conditions for DHD to accomplish this journey of organizational development. For instance, the Caritas service and trade mark is not yet legally registered and secured in Ghana. Moreover, Caritas – Ghana has no legal identity in Ghana. The risk exposure to the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the entire Catholic Church in Ghana, as a result of this organizational fluidity, is quite high and does not also conduce to a service of charity that has to be organized. The institutional development and capacity strengthening (IDCS) plan would pay due attention to this anomaly as well.
Views Expressed by the Bishops
At the conclusion of the workshop, the Bishops expressed general satisfaction and support for the IDCS process. In particular, the following views were expressed:
- Indicated that it was a timely initiative.
- This initiative should be taken down to all dioceses.
- Management Standards are powerful means to address corruption in and outside the Church.
- Reconfirmed the place of service of charity as an integral and essential part of evangelization in Ghana.
- Management Standards would place Church structures in a better stead for resource mobilization and accountability to donors.
- The whole world, especially secular society, is resorting to regulatory, standard-setting and certification approaches. Self-regulation and standards-setting by the Church is not an option but essential to our future sustainability.
Next Steps and way forward
The Department of Human Development which currently and effectively represent Caritas – Ghana has outlined the following roadmap for 2016 in furtherance of its institutional development and capacity strengthening:
- Undertake internal self-assessment using the tools, guidelines and framework defined by CI Management Standards by April, 2016.
- Register and secure Caritas service and trademark in Ghana by April, 2016.
- Register Caritas – Ghana as a legal socio-pastoral organization of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference by March, 2016.
- Use the outcome of the internal self-assessment to develop a draft and interim Organizational Improvement Plan for Caritas – Ghana by April, 2016.
- Hold a ‘retreat session’ for senior managers of the Department of Human Development to reflect on and review the draft Improvement Plan by April, 2016.
- Re-launch and promote the ‘new’ Caritas – Ghana and create social and online visibility for it by May, 2016.
- Facilitate a workshop for the Episcopal Committee (Governance Board) of the Department of Human Development to discuss and approve the draft Interim Organizational Improvement Plan by May, 2016.
- Apply to CI by July, 2016 and submit Caritas – Ghana for external on-site assessment in 2017.
- Document and publish the story-line of Caritas – Ghana’s experience of IDCS for both internal knowledge management and external sharing of knowledge among the global Caritas Confederation by November, 2016.
The last slide of Dr Aloysius John’s presentation was the message of Pope Francis to all Caritas Organizations on 19th October, 2015 concerning the CI Management Standards. There could not have been any better way of making the Bishops feel their true ownership and assured of the support of ecclesial authority for the Management Standards. One Bishop shared his reflection by stating that there are enormous challenges of weak structures at the diocesan level and a culture of dependency on the Church for charity but he felt inspired by the Pope’s message to seek help for the reform and strengthening of his Diocesan structures.
Samuel Zan Akologo
Executive Secretary Department of Human Development and Caritas – Ghana