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Suicide News Is Distressful Catholic Church
 
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27-Aug-2014  
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Rev. Fr Kelvin Abakisi (late)
 
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The Catholic Church in Ghana has described the alleged suicide of a Catholic priest at the Saint Victor Major Seminary at Malshegu in the Tamale Metropolis as distressful news for the church.

It described the incident as most unfortunate and a shock to the church.

The respective Metropolitan Archbishops of Accra and Tamale, Most Rev. Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle and Most Rev. Philip Naameh, said this in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic in Accra and Tamale,

It is not the most interesting piece of news. We are distressed about this. We dont know why a young priest of 31 years and very promising should be found in what has been alleged to be suicide, the Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle told the Daily Graphic.

According to the Northern Regional Police Command, the body of Rev. Fr Kelvin Abakisi was on August 23 found hanging from the ceiling of his sitting room when another priest from the seminary, Rev. Fr Eugene Suom Dery, went to the bungalow with the intention of visiting Fr. Abakisi.

The police do not suspect any foul play since an initial examination of the body did not show any sign of struggle.

Rev. Father Abakisi was recently transferred from the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese to the Saint Victor Major Seminary as a lecturer.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said it was painful to lose a young priest who just returned from further studies and was to support four other priests.
Apologies

In an emotional tone, he said, We are sorry that it happened. We are sorry for his family; we are praying that God will find strength for the family; strength for his friends, and for his Bishop and brother priests.

We pray that God grants him mercy. It is very difficult to judge what may have necessitated the suicide, if it is suicide, he said.

He said it was difficult to determine whether the pressure of work got to him because not much was known yet about the cause of his death.

He, however, observed that in-depth psychology today showed that people who contemplated and committed suicide were often not 100 per cent mentally sound.

Something might be worrying them. Something might be a burden on them to force them to commit suicide. We dont blame suicide victims these days like we used to do formerly because they were probably suffering in silence or having a moment of partial madness, so we cannot judge the young man. We can only pray that God, who knows everything, will grant him mercy, the Archbishop said.

While consoling his congregation and students of the seminary, he urged them to pray for the departed priest.

They should not lose courage. The devil is powerful and can lead us to do things that as Christians, we shouldnt contemplate, he added.

In Tamale, the Most Rev. Naameh opined that although certain forces beyond Abakisis control might have put him in a state of depression that could have compelled him to take his own life, such reasons were still not justified.

He said as a priest, he should have aknowledged that there were certain demands that could be frustrating but which should not make a person to take his own life.

The most important thing now is how to prepare loved ones and relations to cope with the loss, he said.

He acknowledged that as human beings, we are all susceptible to mistakes but because of our calling as priests, we always try to live above reproach. Even though you can do with a certain measure of success in such situations, you are still human.

He admonished people not to judge the deceased but to extend love and sympathy to his loved ones and relations.

Quoting from the Bible, Archbishop Naameh indicated that, suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate societies, and added thats such actions gravely contrast the just love of self and likewise offends the love of neighbours because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations.

The Most Rev. Naameh described the late Abakisi as a brilliant young man who always distinguished himself in whatever he did and said that it was based upon his excellent academic performance that the Bolgatanga/Navrongo Archdiocese sent him to the United States for further studies, where he obtained a Masters degree in Theology.

He also said Rev. Abakisi was recently brought to Saint Victor Major Seminary in Tamale to impart his knowledge to the students who resumed academic work yesterday.
Church doctrine

Suicide is rare among Catholic priests. Centuries ago, Catholics considered suicide a mortal sin.

In the past, Catholics believed that suicide was a ticket to hell. Therefore, for hundreds of years, funeral masses and burials on consecrated grounds for persons who committed suicide were prohibited.

But in 1983, Vatican officials rewrote canon law, opening the door to forgiveness, both from God and the church.

Now the Church adopts a rather liberal interpretation of the doctrine. The response from the church is now pity and not condemnation.

Prayers are offered for the deceased and mass is celebrated. Burial with dignity, in consecrated ground, is provided for anyone who dies this way.
 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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