African Prelate Wonders Where Europe Is Going

Interview With Archbishop Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani

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ROME, DEC. 2, 2004 ( Europe has a key role in Africa’s development, even though the Old World seems to have lost its own Christian identity, says Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani, Congo.

In this interview with ZENIT, Archbishop Monsengwo, president of his country’s episcopal conference, points out that many pastoral and cultural problems still afflict Africa and Europe.

«When we hear arguments over the origins of Europe, when we hear that there is a whole debate on homosexual marriages, we say the world needs evangelization,» he said.

Q: How can this world be evangelized, which seems to flee from and give no importance to its own values?

Archbishop Monsengwo: Europe is fully gifted with the transcendent values that could save it and give true integral development to each and all of its inhabitants. Instead, it runs to things that don’t help it at all.

In the same way, Africa also has values that can help it progress humanly, in a healthy way. But wars and corruption threaten it.

Q: Why does Europe, after having achieved admirable aims, now going through such a profound crisis?

Archbishop Monsengwo: Because the human person is attracted to danger, instead of happiness. Europe was also built by the humble commitment of monks who took charge of the great task of teaching reading and writing.

Now there is an attempt to go back on the past and affirm that all that Christians did is no longer valid. Where is Europe going, legitimizing homosexual marriages? Where is it going, taking steps forward and backward? This already existed in Sodom.

In the face of these things, the bishops reflect on how to present evangelization, in what terms and in what language can Africa and Europe be made to understand where their real happiness lies.

Q: In this context, there are ever-more African priests who carry out their mission in Europe.

Archbishop Monsengwo: Africa’s contribution does not refer only to Europe. Our missionaries from Congo are today both in China as well as Latin America. There are many in Europe and in Italy and they are much appreciated by the bishops.

It is difficult to make them return [to Congo] because the bishops want them to stay. In a diocese of Canada, ever since the bishop appointed a Congolese as parish priest of the cathedral, the church is full, whereas before it was empty.

Q: Europe, however, helps Africa materially.

Archbishop Monsengwo: Africa needs not only the Europe of material goods but above all the Europe of values, such as work, the sense of research, the price of the eternal value of our life on earth, because when one keeps them in mind, one cannot remain seated.

Solidarity implies an organic pastoral program of which the African Synod speaks. It implies a program of reciprocal help, the problem of the «missio ad gentes,» as well as the exchange of priests and agents of evangelization.

For us, all the problems are linked to the community vision, the vision of the Church-family, of humanity-family, which impels one to struggle and share.

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