By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Papal Pro Nuncio or Apostolic Nuncio, who is the Ambassador of the Holy See to The Gambia, His Excellency, Most Rev. Miroslaw Adamczyk, had successfully concluded a 5 day visit to the country. During the visit from the 11th to the 15th August, 2016, the representative of the Pope held several meetings with religious leaders and the Christian community at large.
On Saturday, 13th August, the Apostolic Nuncio met a cross section of Christians, including priests and other religious leaders at the Gambia Pastoral Institute (GPI) on Kairaba Avenue. Among the issues that were discussed during the convergence is the selection of the next Bishop of the diocese of Banjul as well as the situation of Christians in the country following the declaration of The Gambia by the president as an Islamic State, among others.
Speaking to the congregation at the consultative meeting, Most Rev. Adamczyk called for the support of the Christian community in the process of selecting the next Bishop of the Roman Diocese of Banjul as the present occupant, Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison, C.S.Sp. will retire soon. He talked about the process of appointing the new Bishop, which, he added involves two stages, and one of which is this consultation. He tasked the Religious and the Lay Faithful to think about the future of the church and be realistic and partial in nominating two or three names who they wish to be appointed as the next Bishop of Banjul. The nominated candidate, he advised, must have a solid faith, good morality, zeal for souls, wisdom, be full of human virtues, have good reputation and must have a certain age.
The Apostolic Nuncio said it is worth noting that the Bishop is the teacher of faith, the judge and the leader and therefore he must have a doctorate or if not, then an adequate knowledge to be able to lead his followers on the rightful path.
He emphasised the need for confidentiality in the process of selecting the candidates.
Father Peter S. Lopez of the GPI informed the congregation that the present Bishop of the Diocese of Banjul will be 75 years next year and will therefore retire as that is the age limit for bishops.
He said leadership is significant and therefore a good leader helps everybody. “We have to look at our own situation in The Gambia with what has been transpiring within the past few months. So we really need to choose a leader who will give support and encouragement to our people. We are born here and we are all Gambians. We hold a Gambian passport and we belong to this country,” said Father Lopez.
He said the news of the retirement of the Bishop of Banjul and selection of his successor is significant, describing it as good news for Christians in The Gambia.
Dilating on who is responsible for appointing the next bishop, he said after the consultations and nominations, the Holy Father Pope Francis will finally appoint. He, however, said the involvement of the Religious and the Lay Faithful in nominating their candidates is crucial as the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Most Rev, Miroslaw Adamczyk was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to The Gambia by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in 2013.