African Prelates Call for Evangelization, Justice

Offer Input for Upcoming Synod of Bishops

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ACCRA, Ghana, OCT. 1, 2009 ( The bishops of Africa and Madagascar are underlining their continent’s needs, including justice for women and workers, faced to the upcoming synod of bishops that will focus on these topics.

The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) released a document prepared by its pastoral departments, giving the bishops’ input on the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which begins Sunday in Rome.

In this document, the bishops reviewed the «Instrumentum Laboris» for the synod, and renewed their dedication to promoting reconciliation, justice and peace in their countries.

They noted several developments since the last special assembly for Africa, 15 years ago, including socio-political advances, and the growth of democratic, law-abiding states.

SECAM reported «an increase in number of baptisms, priestly and religious vocations, lay movements and associations.»

As well, the document continued, «translation of the Bible in indigenous languages has led to a renewal of interest in reading sacred Scripture and made celebrations of the Word of God more dynamic, more participatory and more effective.»

On the other hand, the bishops stated, there are some problems that have not been resolved in the past 15 years, including: «the insensibility shown by leaders to the needs of their people, promotion of ethnocentrism […], moral laxity, corruption, materialism, the pervasion of the notion of the human family [and] the neglect of the elderly and the denial of a childhood.»

The prelates emphasized several tasks that require «urgent attention» in Africa, including: the family, the dignity of women, peace and justice and the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel, the media, and self-reliance.


They continued: «Due to the unstable political climate and the lack of consistent agricultural policy — among others — the African economy is fragile. 

«This results to rural exodus, overpopulated cities, unemployment, [and] the invasion of Africa by multinational organizations in search of natural resources.»

The document underlined the need for true conversion of Christians, in order to overcome the selfishness and thirst for power at the root of many of the societal problems.

It proposed a critical evaluation of each Church’s «approach to proclamation and catechesis,» underlining the need to focus on «personal encounter with Christ» to facilitate conversion.

The document added, «There should be a deep evangelization so that people will re-discover their true identity as children of God, made in his image and likeness.»

The bishops called on all African peoples, individuals and communities, to «resolve conflicts and forgive without conditions.»

They continued: «Unconditional forgiveness implies that the victim should not wait for the confession of the perpetrator before he or she is forgiven, neither does it mean that the victim may not recall the harm or the injury caused, but that in spite of it, one continues to relate with the other with an open mind, deep mutual trust, cheerful mood and spirit. 

«Similarly, this challenge obliges us to make the first move towards reconciliation and forgiveness even when the offender or the perpetrator does not do so and to readily accept reconciliation and forgiveness from those who offend us.»


«Each Christian in Africa,» the bishops affirmed, «and in every field of human endeavor, must become an ambassador of reconciliation and forgiveness.»

«Similarly,» they added, «all the people of Africa and the world, without exception, must be involved in the promotion of peace, unity, solidarity, dialogue, mutual understanding and respect.»

The prelates called on Church and societal leaders to «urgently foster and promote the dignity of women,» through education and the «concrete engagement of women in Church and state structures and programs.»

The document appealed for justice on all levels, including standards that respect the rights of workers, and efforts to help people become self-reliant.

It underlined the need for improved Catholic media, using communication technology to evangelize the culture.

«Each particular Church in Africa should establish Catholic radio stations, televisions, magazines and newspapers where they are non-existent,» the document stated.

The bishops concluded by affirming the need to transform Africa, and «live as members of one family and become points of unity wherever we are.»

They expressed the hope that the Church in Africa will become an even greater witness of justice and peace.

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