For Africa, Missions Are a Two-Way Street

Cardinal Sepe Outlines Dual Priorities for Continent

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DAKAR, Senegal, OCT. 14, 2003 ( The Church in Africa has two missions — at home and abroad, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, made that observation when he addressed the plenary assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The meeting closed Sunday.

Cardinal Sepe on Saturday said the Church’s mission “ad intra” means that Africa must evangelize Africa, consolidating the family of God, with more adult Catholics who are more mature in their faith. Among the continent’s challenges, he said, are religious sects, Muslim fundamentalism and materialism.

The second priority is the mission “ad extra,” that is, Africa must evangelize the world by sending missionaries overseas, the cardinal said.

In view of this double mission, Cardinal Sepe stressed the importance of the formation of the apostolic personnel, emphasizing the need for the formation of the laity so that they can assume responsibilities in the sociopolitical realm in keeping with Gospel values.

The cardinal also mentioned the need to reinforce community and unity among the bishops, between prelates and priests, and among the clergy. Finally, he proposed the holding of a pan-African missionary congress.

Participants in the plenary assembly elected Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, as new president of SECAM. He succeeds Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani, Congo.

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