Holy See Says It Hasn't Forgotten Africa

Cardinal Sepe Talks of Congo’s Ordeal

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- During his recent trip to Congo, a Vatican official expressed the concern of the Church and the Pope for this martyred region, and called the attention of the world to its conflicts and poverty.

On Vatican Radio today, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, recalled his trip and focused on the role of the Church in the area, and its ability to «incarnate itself in social and humanitarian situations.»

The tragic condition of Congo, which lives in «abject poverty» and seems to be «abandoned by international organizations,» is relieved by the Church, which «has been the only one that has been able to save what was salvageable in this reality,» he said.

Since 1998, the conflict in the Congo has cost 2.5 million lives. Regional powers of the Great Lakes district are fighting for control of the area’s immense natural resources.

The Church is very committed in the Congo «at this time of transition, which has been described as historic by the bishops and president of the Republic, because it has initiated a process of peace, of reconciliation,» the cardinal said.

While visiting the central African nation of 55 million, Cardinal Sepe made an appeal, together with the country’s bishops, for a «lasting, effective and real peace that implies justice,» and for «reconciliation based on forgiveness.»

The African continent suffers «conflicts, misery, poverty,» he said; this is why the «Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is totally committed to it» as it must «not be forgotten.»

Moreover, it must «be given due consideration in the humanitarian plane, so that the Church can freely develop the work of evangelization which is fundamental,» the cardinal said.

The cardinal’s recent trips to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo were in the context of the closeness «of the presence of the Pope, the Holy See and our congregation, to tell our brethren that the Church does not forget them,» he explained.

The cardinal plans to travel to Senegal in October for a meeting of all episcopal conferences of Africa.

«I hope that from these direct contacts there will be greater understanding of the reality in which these heroic bishops and priests, men and women religious, and also the laity, especially catechists, live,» he emphasized. «The conditions in which our brothers develop their pastoral work are at times of authentic heroism and frequently of martyrdom.»

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