“THE HOLY QURAN AS THE CONSTITUTION OF OUR COUNTRY DEEPLY CHALLENGES OUR FAITH,” BISHOP ELLISON TELLS HIS DIOCESE
The Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Banjul, His Lordship, Robert Patrick Ellison, Cssp, has said that making ” The Holy Quran the constitution of our country deeply challenges our faith.” The Head of the Roman Catholic Church made these remarks to Christian worshippers at a packed Cathedral in Banjul on Monday during the festive celebrations of the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary commonly known as Sang Marie.
It is to be recalled that this Bishop was criticized and vilified for accepting monies donated to the Christian Council by Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh a few months ago. Thereat, the heat was on regarding the unconstitutional declaration of The Gambia as an Islamic State. Many pundits and even members of his own congregation condemned the decision for accepting the monies from Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy. As one Catholic elder contacted for this piece noted, “We were beyond disappointed with our Bishop for accepting the money.” He also clarified that the Bishop did not accept the money on behalf of the Catholic Church but the Christian Council and stressed that, ” We Catholics wanted no part of that money.” While tensions were high within the Catholic church, it is only fair to note that, Diplomatic decorum calls for the Bishop not to reject the money particularly in this case where the event was being broadcasted on State Television. Technically, the Bishop is a Diplomat and the direct representative of Pope Francis and the Holy See in the absence of the Vatican Papal Nuncio and therefore; he was within the parameters of Diplomatic Protocol when He accepted the monies as the second ranking member of the Christian Council in the absence of the Council’s Chair, Methodist Bishop, Hannah Faal, who’s absence from that State House gathering is still up for conjecture and may be for a long time, save for a long awaited explanation as to why she was absent.
In his homily on Monday; one that drew ovations from the congregation, Bishop Ellison was clear and emphatic when he addressed the declaration of The Gambia as an Islamic State and the would be law soon, pertinent to the Holy Quran being the law of the land. It should also be noted that Bishop Ellison is as versed as any scholar there is relevant to the Muslim Holy Book.
The following is an excerpt from what the Bishop said and it was transcribed via the transmission of the GRTS from Banjul. ” It is the obligation and responsibility of each and every Gambian citizen to cherish, to nourish and to protect this unique and peaceful coexistence and freedom of worship guaranteed by our constitution and echoed so vibrantly in our national anthem” He went on to invite reference to the pastoral letter sent to the lay faithful the previous week citing, “We will in conjunction with the Gambia Christian Council engage the Government in a peaceful but comprehensive dialogue in order to guarantee our religious freedom as a minority group and above all, the avoidance of religious divide between communities that have been living in harmony for so long and still remains an envy for all peoples within the sub region ” His Lordship continued by calling on his congregation and his Diocese to know that the Holy Quran as the constitution of The Gambia will deeply challenge their faith, rights and their communities as they live their religious convictions. He brought the house down with ovation when he said, ” Therefore we must trust in on the God who sees all and who’s wisdom knows what’s best for us.” He also reminded them they must be prepared as the Blessed Mother Mary accepted her share in the sufferings of their sins. He concluded his sermon to thunderous clapping when he invoked part of the Magnificat, ” “My soul glorifies the Lord, My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Following a colorful and solemn ceremony in which the holy assumption of Mary was celebrated the money that was given at State House was finally distributed to the poor and charitable organizations in line with the commitment the Bishop made when he accepted the money at State House a few months ago. The Catholic congregation went rapturous during the presentation ceremony so beautifully presided over by Mr.Joseph Gaye. Why they were so excited is anyone’s imagination, but it is reasonable to say it is an endorsement of the Holy Fathers call for such monies not to be within the church. It is also safe to note that the turnout was unprecedented and rightfully so a Catholic congregant said, ” It was not just Catholics, but Christians of other denominations also turned out massively to reiterate that, in the sacred constitutional document of The Gambia, not even the National Assembly has powers to pass into law converting this secular republic to an Islamic State.”
In the evening the festivities continued with another well attended procession with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Church of the Holy Spirit, Campama, to the Cathedral at Hagan Street which was beautifully decorated with Sea Blue. What caught a lot of eyes was when the procession got to the round about by the main square, they invoked two popular Catholic wollof songs as if to say they were directly communicating to the seat of power. Two songs they sang along that route were “MALAKA MAN MANGI LA NUYU TE GEM NA NE SA SU NEKA YANGI CHI SUMA WET,” which translate to, “Angel of God we greet thee, and we know you are by our sides at all times.” The other song was in honor of the Blessed Virgin, the Patron Saint of the Diocese and for whom the day was dedicated. ” EY MARIE YAAYE NDEY JU BAAH JI, HEK NGAK BOROM YERMANDEH, NUNGI LA NYAN DI LA DAGAN, DAWSIL, NYOEWAL LAHA.” If you love literature and cherish metaphors, GO FIGURE!