5 Continents Express Solidarity With Africa

US Prelate Notes Continent’s Gift to Global Church

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Representatives from five continents addressed the Synod of Bishops for Africa, underlining points of unity with the people of that land and proposing ways of intercontinental collaboration.

The presentation of these five reports was made Monday at the second general congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which began Sunday in Rome and will end Oct. 25.

A representative from North America, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia, underlined the «one Faith that binds the Church in the United States to all of the other Churches throughout the world.»

He affirmed that the Catholic community on his continent «has benefitted directly during the past generation from a growing number of clergy and religious from the great African continent who now serve Catholics throughout our nation and who serve them generously and zealously.»

Their presence, the prelate said, has given testimony to «the deep faith and generosity of the Church in Africa.»

Our people, said the archbishop, are likewise «deeply grateful for the opportunity to assist the local Churches in Africa.»

The «Church in my country and the Church in the countries of Africa have engaged each other in the work of evangelization and social outreach,» he affirmed.

Thus, Archbishop Gregory stated, this synod is an important reminder of how the Churches on the two continents are «conjoined in faith and in charity.»

We continue to benefit, he said, «from those people from Africa who recently have come as visitors and new residents to our shores.»

The prelate continued: «These new arrivals come, not like those of an earlier moment in time, wearing chains and as human chattel, but as skilled workers, professionally trained businessmen, and students eager to make a new life in a land that they view as promising.

«Many of these new peoples bring with them a profound and dynamic Catholic faith with its rich spiritual heritage. These wonderful people challenge us to rediscover our own spiritual traditions that so often are set aside because of the influence of our secular pursuits.»

Common enemies

The president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania, Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong, Australia, also expressed the desire to collaborate with Africa.

He underlined the common fight against the «terrible scourge of HIV/AIDS,» especially in Papua New Guinea.

Recalling the recent earthquake and tsunami that claimed lives in Samoa and Tonga, the bishop stated, «In both Oceania and Africa, great work is being done by the Church and its agencies to help people recover their equilibrium in their communities and to manage risks that could arise from natural disasters.»

«We can and must learn from one another,» he added.

Bishop Ingham noted that «Australia has begun to re-engage with Africa, particularly in the mining industries,» but he underlined the desire for these miners to «responsible to the communities where they will work.»

He affirmed, «Mining must not contribute to instability and conflict — it should be judged as much by its economic dividend as by its peace dividend!»

The European representative, Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, and president of the council of bishops’ conferences from that continent, acknowledged ways in which Africa can teach other countries.

In Central and Eastern Europe, similar to Africa, there is a need to «seek reconciliation of hearts, purification of memory, and constructive brotherhood,» he pointed out.

The prelate also expressed the desire to collaborate on Church issues, stating, «We wish to better study your liturgical and catechetical experiences, the dynamic of your priestly vocations, the opportunities to build together the Church of Christ in Europe, in Africa, and everywhere throughout the world.»

Fraternal exchange

Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparaceda, Brazil, president of the Latin American bishops’ council (CELAM), echoed his continent’s desire to work together with Africa.

Representing South America, he proposed «fraternal exchange» of the «collegial, pastoral and organized experience» of Church members on both continents.

The prelate proposed offering seminarians the opportunity for priestly training «in some of the particular Churches in Latin America with greater resources,» as an occasion to «learn other languages, which could be used to promote the exchange and the communion between the two continents with such a vast Catholic presence.»

Also underlining the similarity between the Church in Africa and on his continent, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Philippines, general secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, described both Catholic communities as «young.»

«Both continents are continents of the poor and of the young,» he said.

The prelate underlined the realities that Africa and Asia share, including «the trove of cherished traditional family values that are truly human, the thousands of languages spoken, the encounter between Christianity, Islam, and indigenous traditional religions.»

He expressed solidarity of his continent with Africa, as well as the desire to meet the common challenges faced by the Church in both places.

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-27082?l=english

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