In a speech delivered by Executive Director-Caritas Freetown, Rev. Fr. Peter Konteh on the topic: “The Role of Caritas in Promoting Peaceful Non-Violent Elections and Encouraging Women’s Participation and Leadership in the Upcoming Election, he stated that it is an honor to address the crucial topic of the role of Caritas in promoting peaceful non-violent elections and encouraging women’s participation and leadership in the upcoming election.
Rev. Fr. Peter Konteh said as we navigate through this significant period of democratic processes, it is imperative that we draw inspiration from both biblical teachings and the invaluable work carried out by Caritas and Catholic priests in fostering harmony and inclusivity in our electoral processes.
He continued that firstly, let us reflect upon the biblical examples of women in leadership, as viewed from the Catholic perspective saying the Bible presents numerous instances of women who demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities and played pivotal roles in shaping their communities.
According to him, we find the courageous Esther, who fearlessly advocated for her people before the king, risking her own life for justice and peace. He mentioned Deborah, a Prophetess, and Judge, who led the Israelites with wisdom and integrity, instilling a sense of unity and righteousness among the people.
He maintained that these biblical accounts remind all that women possess inherent strength, wisdom, and leadership capabilities, making their participation in elections and governance essential for a thriving society.
The Executive Director-Caritas Freetown said he would like to emphasize the significance of the religious commitment of the Catholic Church in the upcoming elections in Sierra Leone furthering that as we prepare for this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, it is crucial for the Catholic Church to make a resolute commitment to promote and preach peace and non-violence.
He said the Catholic Church holds a profound responsibility to uphold the values of love, justice, and reconciliation, as exemplified by the teachings of Jesus Christ adding that as members of the Catholic Church, they are called to be agents of peace and builders of unity within communities and the nation.
“This responsibility becomes even more critical when we consider that both Presidential candidates in the upcoming elections are members of our Catholic Church,” he said saying in light of that he is urging the Catholic Church to take a strong stance in promoting peace and non-violence throughout the electoral process.
He said by engaging actively in initiatives that foster peaceful dialogue, understandin, and respect among supporters of different candidates, the Church can play a vital role in reducing tensions and promoting a peaceful atmosphere conducive to fair and democratic elections.
The Revered Father said the commitment to peace and non-violence should be echoed from the pulpits across the nation adding that Priests, as spiritual leaders, have the unique opportunity to address their congregations, urging them to reject violence, incitement, and divisive rhetoric.
He said they can emphasize the importance of respectful discourse, responsible citizenship, and the pursuit of the common good and by encouraging prayer, reflection, and unity among their congregants, priests can inspire individuals to embrace peaceful means to address differences and conflicts that may arise during the election period.
Executive Director of Caritas Freetown said the humanitarian and development arm of the Catholic Church, has consistently been at the forefront of promoting peaceful non-violent elections.
He said through their tireless efforts, Caritas Freetown has demonstrated a commitment to nurturing a democratic process that respects human dignity, upholds the principles of justice, and ensures the equal participation of all citizens and their dedication to fostering peace, reconciliation, and social cohesion is commendable.
Caritas Freetown, he underscored, actively engages with communities, empowering women to participate in the electoral process and assume leadership roles saying recognizing the unique perspectives, talents, and experiences that women bring, Caritas Freetown advocates for their increased representation in decision-making bodies, encouraging an inclusive democracy that reflects the diverse voices of our society.
He said by organizing training programs, capacity-building workshops, and awareness campaigns, Caritas Freetown equips women with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to actively engage in electoral processes, whether as voters, candidates, or campaign managers.
Rev. Fr. Peter Konteh maintained that , moreover, the role of Catholic priests in promoting peaceful elections cannot be overstated saying as spiritual leaders, they have a moral responsibility to guide and nurture their congregations, not only in matters of faith but also in matters of social justice and civic engagement.
“Catholic priests, drawing inspiration from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, play a crucial role in promoting peace, non-violence, and respect for human dignity during electoral periods,” he said adding how they emphasize the importance of ethical conduct, responsible citizenship, and dialogue as means to resolve conflicts and ensure peaceful transitions of power.
He pointed out that by fostering an environment of prayer, reflection, and community engagement, Catholic priests encourage individuals and communities to actively participate in elections with a focus on the common good.
According to him, they provide spiritual guidance and pastoral care to candidates, supporters, and voters, urging them to embrace the principles of integrity, fairness, and respect for one another.
Catholic priests, he intimated, promote a culture of inclusivity, urging their congregations to reject violence, discrimination, and divisiveness, and to work towards a society that values the inherent worth and dignity of every individual.
He commended the collaboration and partnership between Caritas, the UNPBF, and Catholic Relief Services Sierra Leone in their dedicated efforts to promote peaceful elections and inclusivity in Sierra Leone.
The Revered Father said they must rally behind that partnership, recognizing the importance of empowering women, engaging the youth, and ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities in the country’s electoral processes.
He said by doing so, they can create a more inclusive and democratic society that paves the way for a prosperous future for all citizens of Sierra Leone adding that one key aspect of that collaboration is the emphasis on promoting women’s participation and leadership in the upcoming elections.
Rev. Fr. Peter Konteh underscored that women play a critical role in shaping the future of the nation, and their perspectives and voices must be heard and respected.
“Together, Caritas, the UNPBF, and Catholic Relief Services Sierra Leone implement initiatives that empower women, providing them with training, mentorship, and support to actively engage as candidates, voters, and campaign managers,” he said adding that by breaking down barriers and addressing gender-based discrimination, this partnership strives to create a level playing field for women in the electoral arena.
He concluded by stating that the role of Caritas Freetown in promoting peaceful non-violent elections and encouraging women’s participation and leadership, along with the contributions of Catholic priests, is instrumental in building a just, harmonious, and inclusive society.
“As we approach the upcoming election, let us draw inspiration from the biblical examples of women in leadership and recognize the immense value that women bring to the political arena,” he said furthering that by working together, fostering peace and embracing the principles of non-violence, we can ensure that our electoral processes uphold the dignity and well-being of all citizens.