Evangelized Church Ready to Reconcile

Synod Father Reflects on Growth, Goals

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The synod fathers are considering the faithful in Africa as “salt of the earth and light of the world” just as the Church there has enjoyed years of extraordinary growth.

Some of the elements of that growth made up the introduction to a synodal address delivered Monday by Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The synod began Sunday in Rome.

The archbishop’s contribution came in the form of a report on “Ecclesia in Africa.” That was the title of the apostolic exhortation written by Pope John Paul II after the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops in 1994.

That assembly was focused on the “evangelizing mission” of the Church in Africa. The numerical growth that the Church has enjoyed in the 15 years since that meeting confirm the evangelization that has occurred.

For example, Archbishop Pasinya drew from 2007 statistics to point out there have been 79 dioceses created and six more elevated, as well as 24 dioceses elevated to archdioceses. In Nigeria alone, 16 new dioceses were created between 1994 and 2007.

Dioceses, both new and old, are being served by 10,736 more priests than 15 years ago. Additionally, Africa has two more cardinals, 117 more diocesan bishops and 38 religious bishops, and 11 more archbishops and 10 more religious archbishops.

Over all, according to the ’07 statistics, there are 61 million more Catholics in Africa.

From evangelization to reconciliation

In this context, the theme for the Second Special Assembly, under way in Rome, is “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. ‘You Are the Salt of the Earth … You Are the Light of the World’ (Matthew 5:13,14).”

Archbishop Pasinya reflected on what the call to reconciliation really means. He noted that the word itself implies “recomposing the tissue of human relations which were broken for one reason or another.” And that in Africa, it further means “putting back together the state of cohesion of the clan and of the family in view of total harmony and balance of lineage and for the collective.”

But Christian reconciliation, he explained, “goes much further, because it belongs to the ‘love, pardon, reconciliation’ trilogy, which for its part implies gratuity in the example of the love of God.”

Hence, the prelate noted, this reconciliation participates in the New Law, and is an invitation to love as God loves, “that is to say, our friends as well as our enemies, the good as well as the evil.”

In this “logic of gratuity,” the archbishop said, the Christian must offer love, pardon and reconciliation “freely, without something in return from the outset.”

Instead, these offerings are “by nature so disinterested that they provoke in themselves a return.”

This ideal “transcends all human efforts,” Archbishop Pasinya acknowledged.

And he continued: “The trilogy love, pardon and reconciliation is inseparably tied to this other one: fraternity, justice and truth. […]

“We can only reconcile ourselves in the truth: the material truth of facts, the formal truth of the internal dispositions of the heart. […]

“Truth, in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence communication and communion.”

“A reconciliation based on lies cannot be the source of lasting peace,” Archbishop Pasinya affirmed, “nor can a reconciliation that ignores the elementary imperatives of justice.”

Citing the Bishops of Rome, the archbishop concluded: “‘No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness,’ said John Paul II in his message for the World Day of Peace 2002. And Benedict XVI would say : ‘in truth, peace!'”

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-27079?l=english

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