African bishop unable to be at synod because of Ebola

An African bishop was unable to attend the synod on the family in Rome because Ebola-related restrictions meant he couldn’t leave his country.

Bishop Anthony Borwah of GBarnga diocese in Liberia has sent a written intervention to the synod instead.

In August, Bishop Borwah discovered that neighbouring Ivory Coast had restricted airline travel and closed its borders.

So he couldn’t get to Abidjan where he would have been able to apply for a visa to enter the European Union.

Bishop Borwah’s intervention described the challenges facing the family in Liberia today.

These include Ebola, polygamy, migration, unemployment, the lack of a father-figures, domestic violence, child trafficking, and sexual tourism.

“Existential questions from the poor, prevalent during the civil war, are been asked again: Where is God? What wrong have we (Liberians) done again?

“How come we have once again become the abandoned and scum of the earth?”

The bishop has called for daily prayer gatherings in his diocese in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.

At these gatherings, strict hygiene restrictions are being observed and updates are given of the latest Ebola situation.

More than 80 per cent of Liberia’s population live in poverty and food prices have skyrocketed due to recent port and border closures.

Bishop Borwah is grateful for global aid groups and donors, including Catholic agencies, but more support is needed.

Survivors of Ebola also need support because they are being stigmatised, he said.

The death toll in West Africa has reached more than 4000 people, mainly from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

There have been more than 8000 suspected cases in the current outbreak.

But Pope Francis has not forgotten the Liberian people, Bishop Borwah said.

“The Holy Father prays for Ebola stricken people every day, even as the synod goes on,” the bishop said.

“He is very close to our suffering.”


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