Holy Father Stresses 5 Priority Areas for Africa

Asks for World Solidarity to Help the Continent

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed to the Church and the international community to help return to Africa what has been taken away from it, sometimes violently.

The Pope reviewed the plight of the so-called forgotten continent when he met today with the participants in the 12th meeting of the postsynodal council of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. The special assembly took place in 1994.

“This continent seems to know neither truces nor peace,” the Holy Father said. “To international conflicts must be added the hot spots of fighting that sow terror and devastation among the populations, so very anxious to live in a serenity that is finally rediscovered.”

John Paul II referred specifically to the “scourges that afflict Africa and Africans”: poverty; problems in the area of education and health; AIDS; insecurity due to conflicts; and rampant corruption.

The Pontiff underscored that all of society, and especially the Church, must act cohesively to overcome these problems.

He said the universal Church has many times reminded world leaders of “the five priorities to give Africans what has been taken from them, often violently: respect for life and for religious diversity; the eradication of poverty; an end to arms trafficking; an end to conflicts; and concrete action with a view to development motivated by solidarity.”

Reminding the participants that the first Synod of Africa stressed the “family dimension of the Church,” the Holy Father appealed to Catholics and their pastors to promote “an authentic fraternal reconciliation, given the wounds caused by the conflicts that continue to poison interpersonal, interethnic and international relations in the diverse regions of Africa.”

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