For the first time, President John Mahama has reacted directly to the raging controversy over government’s intention to facilitate the trip of 200 pastors to Israel for a pilgrimage, as the pastors demand the identities of the sponsors.
According to the men of God, even though government claimed some philanthropists are footing the $600,000 bill for the Israeli trip, they would want to know their identities and the source of their money.
Apparently frustrated by the twist taken by the planned trip, President Mahama sneaked in the topic on Tuesday when he arranged a meeting with Christian leaders at the Flagstaff House.
The meeting also briefed the president on preparations being made for a planned National Prayer and Fasting Day in the first week of April.
At the meeting, a clearly unhappy President Mahama responded to the intense bashings the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been subjected to since news of the pilgrimage became public, saying “Unfortunately, the whole intent [of the Israeli Pilgrimage] has been misunderstood and it has created some negative circumstances under which various church groups are writing and saying we don’t want to participate.
"We respect the various organisations but I want to clarify that it is from private sponsorship”.
A committee is said to have been put in place to work on a common position. But even before the committee meets, the pastors are already divided over the issue with some vehemently opposing the move for government sponsorship and facilitation.
Daily Guide gathered that this challenge was thrown to the Christian leaders in a closed door meeting at the Flagstaff House, but there were so much divided opinions among the clergy men about the president’s question that they decided to set up a committee to advise government on the thorny topic.
Even though President Mahama reiterated that government is in no way funding the trip as reported, government officials failed to mention the names of the alleged philanthropists.
Rev. Martey insisted that he would need to know the source of the funding to even consider supporting the proposal, wondering if the sponsors represent gay interest.
According to the Moderator, he would not want to have anything to do with gays and, therefore, the sponsors should be identified.
Bishop Joseph Osei Bonsu, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, who was not at the meeting, also disagrees with the rationale behind the trip, insisting that the timing is wrong, particularly in the face of the national crisis.
According to him, the funds for the trip should rather be channeled into poverty eradication programmes.
He said they have not been told about the faces behind the sponsorship and that he would rather advise the sponsors to commit the resources to good use by not giving them to any pastor for a jolly ride to Israel.
He said the prayers could be said in Ghana without going to Israel.
Source: Daily Guide
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