Africa's Bishops: Laity Are Protagonists of Evangelization

Special Council Prepares for Synod

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2005 ( Evangelization, especially on the part of the laity, topped the list of topics being considered for discussion in the second synod of African bishops.

Meeting in Rome, the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, reflected on several possibilities for the theme for the synod, whose convocation was confirmed June 22 by Benedict XVI.

“In keeping with the Holy Father’s wishes, proposals were made on the topics of evangelization, the Church’s social activity, reconciliation and peace, aware that the Lord’s disciples in Africa must also show themselves ever more salt of the earth and light of the world,” explained a note published Saturday by the Vatican.

“In the person of Jesus Christ is found the supreme model of this Christian conduct in Africa, because it is he par excellence who can give flavor and light to Christian life,” it added.

The note continued: “Thus the Church becomes the soul of society, which will be reconciled, pacified and just, accepting these challenges as an integral part of her presence and evangelizing work.

“As it is a question of rendering testimony in all the realms of life in Africa, the laity are the protagonists of this direct action to reflect in the world the light that is Christ.”

During the meeting, the bishops reported “on the social, political and ecclesial situation in Africa,” as well as the implementation of “Ecclesia in Africa,” noted the statement.

The members of the council asked Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, “to submit for the consideration of the Holy Father Benedict XVI the results of their collegial discussions in view of the preparation of the ‘Lineamenta’ of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.”

Promotion of peace

The “lineamenta,” or guidelines, which will be distributed to all the dioceses and ecclesiastical territories of Africa, will serve to prepare the working document of the synodal assembly.

Benedict XVI, who will select the theme and guidelines for the meeting, received the members of the Special Council in audience June 22, communicating to the bishops what he expects from the synod.

He said that he hopes that it will “give a further impulse to evangelization, to the consolidation and growth of the Church and to the promotion of reconciliation and peace in the African continent.”

The first Synod for Africa was held in the Vatican in 1994 with the theme: “The Church in Africa and Her Evangelizing Mission Toward the Year 2000.”

Pope John Paul II summarized the conclusions of that meeting in the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Africa.”

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