Interventions From Synod's 4th Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2009 ( Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given Tuesday afternoon at the Fourth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

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H. Exc. Mons. François Xavier MAROY RUSENGO, Archbishop of Bukavu (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

Starting with the damage caused by wars and violence in the East of our country, the Dem. Rep of Congo, and especially in our archdiocese of Bukavu, we estimate that reconciliation can no longer be limited solely to the harmonization of interpersonal relations. It must unavoidably take into consideration the deep causes of the crisis in relations, located on the level of the country’s interests and natural resources to be exploited and managed for everyone’s good, transparently and with equanimity. Because the causes for the violence in the East of the DR of Congo are essentially its natural resources.

To this effect, we recall the work that the commission Justice and Peace is doing to break down in the archdiocese of Bukavu so that reconciliation may be achieved through community reconstruction.

The objective is to help people reconcile themselves with their history and to commit to building a new future.

Special attention is given to the young persons. For them, we propose recreational and cultural activities able to favor reconciliation at their level, thanks to the intervention of each and every one of them in the construction of their living areas.

This approach is understood as a response to the often forgotten community traumas so as to make people responsible and actors in a positive change. It needs the reinforcement of education at the base and organization of the populations in view of a better community charge. It also requires placement of the spaces and frameworks of exchange and dialogue for the effective participation of the population in the management of the wealth to be used for the reconstruction, to the development of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.

While we speak during these meetings, the pastoral agents in our archdiocese are worried about the enemies of peace. One of the parishes of our archdiocese was burnt down on Friday 2 October 2009, the priests were attacked, others taken hostage by uniformed men who demanded a very high ransom which we were forced to pay to save the lives of our priests that they threatened to massacre. Through these acts, it is the Church, remaining the only support for a terrorized, humiliated, exploited, dominated people, whom they would reduce to silence. Lord, may your will be done, may your kingdom of peace arrive (cf. Mt 10:6).

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H. Em. Card. Walter KASPER, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (VATICAN CITY)

While there has been, thanks to God, a rapid growth of the Church in Africa, there is sadly also an increasingly deeper fragmentation among Christians. Although this situation is not unique to Africa, it is too easy to assume that these divisions are historically entrenched through the legacy of the divided Christianity that Africa received, there are today also many new divisions in Africa itself when we think on the more recent Charismatic and Pentecostal communities, the so called Independent churches and the sects. Their growth worldwide is extensive, and their vitality on the African continent is reflected in the growth of the African Independent Churches, which have now formed an official institution, the OAIC, based in Nairobi. A certain level of dialogue is currently undertaken through the Global Christian Forum, which recently met in Nairobi.

On other levels a serious dialogue with these groups is not easy if not in many cases totally impossible because of their aggressive behaviour and — to say the least — their low theological standard. We have to face the urgent challenge by a self-critical attitude. For it is not enough to tell, what is wrong with them, we have to ask what is wrong or what is deficient with our own pastoral work? Why so many Christians leave our Church? What they are missing with us and searching elsewhere? The PCPCU tried to provide some help by two symposiums for bishops and theologians, one held in Nairobi and one in Dakar. We are ready to help also in the future. In this context I want to mention only two important points: Ecumenical catechetical formation and building up of small Christian communities within our parishes.

Let me now come to some of the many other challenges and tasks:

1. We look now back to almost fifty years of ecumenical dialogue. Significant ecumenical progress has been made since the Second Vatican Council, but the path to full ecclesial communion remains probably still long and arduous due to the difficulties which remain in our theological dialogues. Now appropriate steps are required to engage together with our ecumenical partners in a process of reception of the fruits of the dialogues. The commitment of the Church on the universal level must be translated and received in the local churches. This has to happen in catechesis and in theological formation, on the diocesan and on the parochial levels.

2. While traditionally the Catholic Church in Africa has maintained ongoing dialogue with the historical and nowadays also with more recent Protestant traditions, the recent rapid spread of Orthodoxy across the continent makes it essential for the Catholic Church in Africa to engage also in positive dialogue and relationships also with our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

3. The Catholic Church in Africa must give impetus to ecumenical relations with the Evangelical, Charismatic and the Pentecostal movements on the African continent also because of the relevance of their indigenous expressions and their affinity with the traditional African cultural worldview. Such an ecumenical engagement calls for inspired fidelity to the Church’s principles on ecumenism on the one hand (UR, 2-4), and a specific understanding of African cultural expressions on the other. Dialogue and the pursuit of unity must therefore take seriously the context of African cultural roots. Indeed, the roots of different trees standing apart in the neighbourhood will intertwine, even as they remain distinct in their struggle to access the same life-giving sources of soil and water. This intertwining is emblematic of ecumenical rapprochement, linked to the whole question of Inkulturation and contextual relevance.

4. Our search for unity in truth and love must never lose sight of the understanding that Church unity is the work and gift of God’s Holy Spirit, and goes well beyond our own efforts. Therefore spiritual ecumenism, especially prayer is the very heart of ecumenical commitment (UR, 8). Yet ecumenism will not bear lasting fruits if it is not accompanied by tangible gestures of conversion, which stir the conscience and foster the healing of memories and relationships. As the Decree on Ecumenism asserts, «There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart […]» (UR, 7). Such a metanoia (UR, 5-8; UUS, 15f.; 83f.) would bring us closer to God at the centre of our lives, in such a way that we too come closer to one another.
Thus the theme of the Synod offers a challenge to the Church in Africa to sharpen its ecumenical vision and to offer the pursuit of unity to the people of Africa as an authentic treasure of the Gospel. The Catholic Church in Africa is encouraged to continue building bridges of friendship and, through prayerful spiritual ecumenism and the consequent discernment of the will of God, to engage in «the ministry of reconciliation» (2 Cor 5:18), which has been entrusted to us through Christ. That is the underlying basis of our ecumenical commitment. The renewal of the inner life of our hearts and minds is the crux of all dialogue and reconciliation, making ecumenism a mutual commitment of understanding, respect and love, so that the world may believe.

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H. Exc. Mons. François EID, O.M.M., Bishop of Cairo of Maronite Rite (EGYPT)

In this intervention I speak for myself and refer to numbers 102, 126 and 128, which speak about relations with other religions, while insisting on going from dialogue be
tween Cultures to a Culture of Dialogue, for the formation of future priests in Africa.

An Asian thinker said: “we need not only the knowledge of the other, but also of the other to know ourselves better.” This said, we can point out that the question of Dialogue is posed as the cultural and spiritual problematic “par excellence”, seeing as it is tied, more in the understanding of ourselves than in our attitude towards others.

History teaches us that the source of a Dynamism that renews cultural identities resides in its broad universal openness that draws it to welcome differences and create a continuously enriching osmosis; on the other hand, cultural isolation leads to the loss of identity.

The barometer of a good cultural health of a people or of a community lies in the centrality of the other in the community path. This explains the centrality of Love of the Other in Christianity which makes the Church a Diaconate at the service of man.
Thus, one of the Letters of the Oriental Catholic Patriarchs stated that “the presence of others in our life represents the voice of God and our relation with them is an essential element of our spiritual identity, because of this, we must go beyond conviviality towards a fraternal yet responsible communion.

1. I believe that the formation of future African priests to the one belonging to Our Lord Jesus, Teacher and Model, represents the only alternative to form these priests into instruments of peace and reconciliation. Thus, their mission should not be considered as the place for a competition of personal, family or tribal interests, rather, to the contrary, a place for the encounter between brothers beloved by the Lord and called upon to build together, in Charity, His Kingdom of Peace and Justice.

2. At this point, I see an urgent need for a better Priestly Formation that places, as its priority, the passage from a Dialogue between Cultures to a Culture of Dialogue. This mission will make the future African priests the Messengers of the Gospel of peace, for a New Africa, where Spiritual and Human solidarity moves, each and everyone, to carry their difficulties, suffering, hopes and challenges of the Other, who is our brother before God. Thus we move:

From marginalization to welcoming,From rejection to acceptance,
From rivalry to fraternity.

The Culture of Dialogue echoes what Saint Augustine said: “ET IN OMNIA CARITAS”.

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H. Exc. Mons. Simon NTAMWANA, Archbishop of Gitega, President of the Association of Episcopal Conferences for Central Africa (A.E.C.C.A.) (BURUNDI)

Several categories and groups, in our lower region, suffer under the weight of various evils which have just been mentioned. Families are disrupted, destabilized, impoverished. Some do not even have their own homes to live in, nor land to cultivate in order to survive, nor the means to educate their children, nor anything with which to tend to their healthcare needs, etc. Added to these types of lacking, there are phenomena such as the rape of women, the recruitment of children into armed groups, etc. If the responsibility for this situation is shared by all the elements of society, some among them are more responsible than others. We think in particular of the leading political class. In fact, one deplores, among other facts, that political men use ethnic fractures to gain and to maintain power. Some of them consider their position uniquely as a source of personal enrichment, or even that of their families and friends, thus allowing vote-seeking and tribalism to triumph over authentic values, thus seriously compromising social peace.

In this evolution, the Church has played a role, through her messages and exhortations, but also with her witness of fraternity across borders and barriers generated by armed conflicts and wars. Some of our brothers in the Episcopate even had to manage National Sovereign Conferences to ensure mediation between different elements in their countries. In addition, our “Justice and Peace” commissions were involved, in certain countries, in the preparation of elections, providing a civic and electoral education. The Caritas-Development Commissions, in these situations of war, have helped thousands of vulnerable people.

However, not only does spiritual poverty need to be healed, but the generalized impoverishment and unrestricted pauperization of ou r people must be resolved in appropriate. Indeed, it is because these populations are poor or impoverished, that they have become vulnerable. Those well off manipulate them as pleases them; and certain fishermen in troubled waters use ethnic fractures, for example, to divide peoples, in order to continue to enrich themselves in situations of conflict, where people cannot claim their rights.

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H. Exc. Mons. Martin MUNYANYI, Bishop of Gweru (ZIMBABWE)

The Church in Zimbabwe appreciates very much that the Instrumentum laboris dealt with issues which are of great concern in our country, such as poverty, violence, lack of recognition of women, children and minority groups and also issues of injustice in Church such as working conditions of Church employees.

Zimbabwe had very difficult and inhuman socio-political experiences traceable from the pre-colonial, the colonial and post-colonial eras which need to be dealt with urgently. It will be a mistake, in quest for lasting reconciliation, to simply ask people to forget the past.

Reconciliation is needed not only in the nation at large but also in the Church, for we see simmering tension in some of our parishes due to language and ethnic differences.

In Africa, when we talk of justice we certainly talk of affected parties including their families. Communities need to sit together and discuss their problems in a palaver scenario. And retributive and restorative justice should be established before the death of either party in a case.

Issues of justice in the Church are obvious in not paying our workers enough that constitutes a just wage and in the misuse of Church resources by priests at the expense of the communities. Some Church practices tend to have a bias against the girl child. For example, the girl is punished while the boy is not.

As a local Church, we have set up structures such as Commission for Justice and Peace to address negative historical aspects of our experience.

The whole undertaking should start somewhere like in the family as Pope Benedict XVI rightly stated: «The family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace… because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace.»

In the process Pope John Paul II’s words should be taken seriously, namely, «No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness.» This is the kingdom justice advocated in the Instrumentum laboris which sums up the Gospel message of reconciliation, justice and peace.

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H. Exc. Mons. Daniel MIZONZO, Bishop of Nkayi (REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

It would seem that the objective of this Synod is the commitment of all the Actors and Institutions to achieve a true, real and lasting peace in Africa, in other words the advent of the Kingdom of God on this continent. To reach this objective, our primary need consists in the onto-theological search of the Truth.

In fact, in almost all of our countries, in Africa, particularly those that have known or are still at war, we have had ceremonies and gestures of national reconciliation, trials for genocide in the name of justice, symbolic gestures of peace, and other initiatives. But despite all these efforts, true, real and lasting peace, while part of the order of the day, it still does not exist in Africa. Why? Because truth is missing.

“Quid est Veritas?” (Jn 18:38). Pilate’s question is still valid today in Africa. Jesus’ answers are edifying: “I am the Way; I am Truth and Life” (Jn 14:6): “I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18:37). In the Kingdom of God “Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss. T
ruth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.” (Ps 84(85):11-12)

Once again, Saint Paul underlines that Christ “is our peace” (Eph 2:14) because ontologically He is Truth.

We encourage the Institution of International Tribunals (TPI), the Commissions of Truth and Reconciliation for Peace, who did good things in South Africa: because only “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32) and will give us a true, real, lasting peace. “Africa semper novi”.

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H. Exc. Mons. Claude RAULT, M. Afr., Bishop of Laghouat (ALGERIA)

Our Church in North Africa is in a position as a geographic and human “crossroad” which places us at a junction between Europe, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. The population is composed of Arabs and Berbers, but also, we often forget, a fringe of black populations in the Southern area of this vast region. The main and almost exclusive religion is Islam, also crossed by many different currents. It is in this geographic, human and religious universe that, as Christians, we live our vocation to the Encounter and to Dialogue.

— First of all, we must explain how difficult it is for us to place and anchor ourselves to the heart of the Church of Africa. However, the same name of Africa had its origins in the Maghreb, coming from “Ifriqiya”, the country of Saint Augustine.

— The colonial inheritance weighs on our shoulders even today. The Church of Maghreb is even more burdened. We add a difficult historical relationship between the Arab world and the African world, due in part to slavery which unfortunately has not only been a Western fact.

— However, our situation is a grace to be embraced. We are an evermore many-cultural Church, thanks to the marked presence of religious and priests and lay persons, students and migrants coming from beyond the Sahara, or from other continents.

These factors give the Church a more universal image. But this poses a serious challenge to our Church in Maghreb: that of its unity and communion. Participation in our ecclesial life as Christians from all conditions coming from Europe, America, Asia, from the African continent, from the Middle East, but also coming from North Africa, all this is new, and requires us to be open to the Universal. This is how we build the Church of Christ, a Church of the Pentecost, with all our differences and complementarities combined, despite our smallness, men and women,

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H. Exc. Mons. Antoine NTALOU, Archbishop of Garoua (CAMEROON)

In Cameroon, as in several other African countries, we can see that many citizens are in positions of responsibility and recognize themselves as children of the Mother Church; we find them in practically every sector of life, in the area of health as well as in the area of education, of politics, of finances, of culture, of associative life, etc… It is also commonplace to see that these persons are proud of what they received from the Church during their youth. But often, we also make the bitter experience of the significant division existing between the organization of social life and the needs of the evangelical message.

Here we find ourselves facing a very serious problem for which we must determine the main cause, in order to find a solution for it. On my part, I believe that, keeping in mind the age of our Churches in Africa, some lack organization for the pastoral within a majority of our dioceses, which explains, without excusing it, the situation I am speaking about. I refer to the insufficiency of doctrinal formation of Christians who take on responsibilities within the structures of our countries today. Among the majority of them, the only doctrinal baggage is what they received at the moment of preparation for the sacraments of initiation, and more! We should not be surprised when often, in social dialogue, they do not have a lot to offer, whereas, on the other hand, several interest or pressure groups are powerfully armed for the ideological battle; our faith has but their good will to contribute.

Therefore, it is more urgent to ensure a solid Christian formation of the sons and daughters of our Church than to commit oneself to politics, economy and the other key-sectors of life in our African countries. The program for this formation would include a large part to the social doctrine of the Church, to the Bible, to theology, to morals, to the history of the Church, among other disciplines. Above all we would aim at the formation of the conscience of our elite. God be thanked, joyful initiatives have already seen the light of day here and there on the continent (schools of theology), and a laity conscious of its responsibilities in a world which needs to be transformed from within begins to emerge. Today, these experiences are still rather limited, for the impact of the leaven of the Gospel to be perceived in the reflex actions and habits of individuals and groups. But we are moving in the right direction.

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H. Exc. Mons. Michael WÜSTENBERG, Bishop of Aliwal (SOUTH AFRICA)

Laity and hierarchy are often not in one accord. Reconciliation is needed within the Church. A Pastoral Plan led to the development of a better community. This reconciliation within the Church affected the evangelizing commitment of laity to reconciling a broken world. Unity and cooperation of the Bishops’ Conference support the laity in networking. Small Christian Communities — rooted in faith — network in the social field for transforming society on local level. This commitment happens also through various institutions. With a widely observed lack of deeper catechesis such commitment in «all strata of humanity» needs thorough formation.

Institutions working at different levels assist pastoral workers and the laity with comprehensive formation. Yet more needs to be done to create strong and efficient networks. The networking of bishops with the laity in Pastoral Forums can be further developed even on regional and continental levels. The laity’s ministry of reconciliation needs to be acknowledged in celebrations that reassure, confirm and even prepare for this mission. Sacramental experience provides divine formation.

The often scarce celebration of the sacrifice of reconciliation within the Eucharist prevents the regular experience of the intimate relationship with Christ with oneself and others. This imbalance in the sacramental life of the Church needs to be reconciled for the sake of a comprehensive spirituality of reconciliation.

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H. Exc. Mons. Armando Umberto GIANNI, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Bouar, President of the Episcopal Conference (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC)

We have sought to elaborate on the crisis that has brought us physical and moral suffering. We have come together to give everyone an opportunity to express their own opinion.

There is a desire in everyone to come out of this, to find the way of dialogue, of conversion.

The delicate but necessary work of helping priests who have problems recovering the way of truth. We wait for the Synod to give a clear and persuasive word about this.

Then the greater challenge: how to help priests form true priestly families. One senses the need to have a directory for priestly life.

If our crisis has brought suffering it will help us to grow more harmoniously.. We need to intensify the deep union with Christ.

For more than 15 years our country has been in search of a social peace, of an equilibrium that brings more security and stability, necessary to attract investments, to restart economic activity, to develop social services: school, health, social dialogue.

Unfortunately impunity continues to cover various crimes and injustices. The conflicts of interest that afflict Darfour also reverberate in our country.

The Church has continued to be present everywhere in our country. Even in the so called red zones, that is the unstable areas; she has continued to attend to her work in schools, in health, close to displaced and handicapped people.I
would like to point out the willingness of the staff at the missions in this setting of insecurity to assure the service of mediation between government and rebel forces, at times even with bandits.

These accords have made it possible to bring food, medicine everywhere, and ensure meetings of dialogue between the parties in dispute, which have contributed to decreasing the tensions.

In my opinion the Church has a vocation to be there, in these abject and hidden places, to help douse the conflicts about home at their start. Her voice is heard and sought after, because it is credible.

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H. Exc. Mons. Giovanni Innocenzo MARTINELLI, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Tabuda, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli (LIBYA)

We know that, on the African continent, there are more than ten million displaced persons, migrants looking for a country, a land of peace.

The phenomenon of this Exodus reveals the face of injustice and socio-political injustice in Africa. We live the tragedy of this phenomenon completely in Libya… to come to Libya to be rejected from Europe…

Thousands of immigrants enter Libya every year coming from Sub-Saharan African countries. Most of them are fleeing from war and poverty in their own countries and come to Libya, where they look for jobs to help their families or as a means to reach Europe in the hopes of finding a better and more secure life. Many of them were taken in by promises of a well-paid job and now find themselves constrained to working at badly-paid and dangerous jobs, or none whatsoever. Many women brought to the country are obliged to prostitute themselves and are turned into slaves. All illegal immigrants risk being put into prison, risk deportation or worse yet have no access to any legal assistance or healthcare.

In Libya there are various recruitment centers for all clandestine peoples, but all those that come to the Center of Social Service of the Church come from Eritrea and Nigeria, Ethiopians, Sudanese and from Congo…

For many immigration is a tragedy, especially because it is often a means of traffic and exploitation (in particular of women) and disregard for human rights. However we thank the Lord for their Christian witness. It is a community that suffers, that searches, precarious but full of Joy in the expression of faith! And who in the Muslim social and religious context make the Church credible… and enlivens the dialogue of life with many Muslims. They are our Church of Libya, pilgrim and stranger, light of Jesus and salt for the people who are around us.

I ask their shepherds to remember them in this forced Exodus!

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H. Exc. Mons. Lucius Iwejuru UGORJI, Bishop of Umuahia (NIGERIA)

Multinational corporations exploit natural resources in Africa in a measure unprecedented in history. They use up resources that accumulated over a long period, mindless of whether future generations would be left with any means of sustenance. This reckless exploitation of the environment impacts negatively on Africans and threatens the prospects of their living in peace.

Linked to this problem is the degradation of the environment in Africa. Lands are destroyed through deforestation, oil spillage, as well as the dumping of toxic wastes, plastic containers and cellophane materials. Also man-made erosion sweeps away farmlands, devastates roads and silts up sources of water supply. These factors further impoverish African communities, heightening tensions and conflicts.
The gifts of creation are from a caring Father. Each generation needs them for its sustenance. They are to be cared for (Gen 2:15) and used with moderation. The present ecological challenges are as a result of man’s sins: selfishness, greed, insensitivity to environmental damage and failure to care for the earth.

The Church in Africa is to stimulate ‘ecological conversion’ through intensive education. She is to educate people in Africa to be more sensitive to the increasing disaster caused by environmental damage and the need to minimise it. All are to be made ever conscious that future generations have a right to live in an environment that is intact and healthy and to enjoy its resources.

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Rev. Guillermo Luis BASAÑES, S.D.B., General Councillor of the Salesians of Don Bosco for the Region of Africa-Madagascar (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

I will comment on numbers 113-114, on “Consecrated Persons”.

In light of the theme of this Synod, I believe that Consecrated Life’s most precious and most urgent contribution today is that of the prophecy of communion: its being today in the Church and for the African people signum fraternitatis.

Where some African populations today are tempted to declare the impossibility of coexisting, living together, sharing the same land, religious men and women, called to live perfect charity in community, not only announce to all peoples and ethnic groups in Africa that it is possible to live together in diversity or that it is possible to tolerate each other, but that to live and work together is fruitful, useful, and even beautiful.

I therefore propose that instead of speaking of “consecrated persons” as actors of reconciliation, justice and peace, rather, the “community of the sacred life” should be emphasized.

To this end, I see with great urgency the need for our Pastors in Africa to be able to continue to help Consecrated Life remain faithful to its vocation of profound communion and reconciliation:

— promoting the knowledge of the nature of Consecrated Life in Churches and more specifically its prophecy of communion;

— urging a centrality to the formation of intercultural, international and inter-ethnic community life in the formation to Consecrated Life in Africa;

— avoiding that the request for pastoral services, each time more widespread, urgent, and diversified, undermine the community witness of Consecrated Life with the risk that the salt loses its good flavor;

— encouraging the different Religious Institutes born in Africa to open themselves as soon as possible to the ad gentes mission to show clearly that no charism is exclusively linked to one ethnic group or nation (cf. VC 78)

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H. Exc. Mons. Berhaneyesus Demerew SOURAPHIEL, C.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba, President of the Episcopal Conference, President of the Council of the Ethiopian Church (ETHIOPIA)

I hope this Synod on Africa shall study the root causes of human trafficking, internally displaced persons, abused domestic workers (especially women in the Middle East), refugees and migrants, especially the African boat migrants and asylum seekers, and come up with concrete positions and proposals to show to the world that African lives are sacred and not cheap, as they seem to be presented and seen in many media channels.

As it is well known, the African Union (AU) has its headquarters in Addis Abeba, where it was founded. The AU is the forum of political leadership in Africa. It is useful to know that almost 50% of the members of this AU are members of the Catholic Church. So far the Apostolic Nuncio in Ethiopia has been invited to attend the general assemblies of the AU whenever they take place in Addis Abeba as an observer. It is my hope that the Holy See appoints a permanent representative to the AU who should attend all the meetings whenever they take place and who could keep in personal contact with the Catholic members of that important institution.

This special representative preferably would have diplomatic credentials
comparable to the ones of an Apostolic Nuncio. He would be appointed to be fully
committed and available for his mission in such a way that he may attend the meetings and meet the persons who have key influence in the decision making process.

The same representative at the AU is needed by a representative of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), at least on an observer level, so that the Catholic Church in Africa has a voice in
the AU and becomes an encouragement to its lay Catholic faithful working in the AU.

On our side we, as the local Church of Ethiopia, commit ourselves to do our best to welcome such special representatives from the Holy See or from SECAM and, in case, they want to reside in Addis Abeba to facilitate their work and to collaborate with their mission. I am sure that the African Union would be willing to accept such. persons .and the Catholic Lay members of that body would feel particularly supported by the Catholic Church in their mission.

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H. Exc. Mons. Emílio SUMBELELO, Bishop of Uíje (ANGOLA)

In our Angolan context, justice must proceed with forgiveness. Without forgiveness there cannot be reconciliation and, consequently, peace, given that the development of any people or nation is delayed indefinitely, in the absence of mechanisms of forgiveness. In the last thirty years a good number of African countries — and Angola does not escape this rule — have undergone profound changes. Innumerable and enormous upheavals of the population, linked to war, have transformed African society. At present, more than half of the population lives in urban areas. One of the first consequences concerns its ethnic-tribal identity: people from different backgrounds and social levels now live together in the same urban environment, giving rise to a cultural fusion. The second consequence lies in inter-ethnic conflicts, generated by uneasy economic conditions and great social inequality.

True forgiveness must include the search for truth. Part of this truth is recognizing the evil done and, if possible, finding a remedy. The result is that forgiveness neither eliminates nor diminishes the need for reparation which is typical of justice, but demands reintegrating individuals and groups into society. Concrete steps: 1) through CIP, Pro Pace, promote opportune studies regarding prevarications of ethnic groups or injustices, to ascertain the truth as the first step towards reconciliation. 2) To focus on “human reconstruction” which passes through the modification of the behavior of the badly structured personality and/or who has suffered some shock in its structure and/or in the structures of its society. “Human reconstruction” is therefore a work that one awaits from the Church, so that the “destroyed individual” might return to being a person and accept himself and learn to give a new impetus, transforming into the ability to accept others..

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H. Exc. Mons. José NAMBI, Bishop of Kwito-Bié (ANGOLA)

The democratic culture is progressing, even if tentatively. In Angola, they cannot keep up with the election cycle that would be desirable. There are politicians that desire a true change in the situation, but others are contrary, they are insensitive and preoccupy themselves only with their interests. The winds of democracy can be felt more in the capital than in the other zones of the country and with little means of social communications. One can observe the absence of true civic education of the citizens, something that favors manipulation. All those, united by illiteracy in a rural setting, makes the situation ver yprecarious. The critical awareness of the people is weak. Some of them believe everything told to them by the means of social communication.

Because of this, it is considered vital to promote the civic education of citizens and reinforce their critical awareness. That signifies also promoting the defence of freedom of expression and of opinion, as a democratic prerogative and range of development. The laity who are members of diverse civil institutions, of political parties, of the Parliament, are called to be true witnesses of reconciliation, of justice and of peace. Therefore we believe it is fundamental to continue to invest in their formation, at all levels.

The African continent is considered a rich continent, but its population continues to be poor. Something positive is being done to reduce poverty. In Angola, one can observe a great effort to break away from poverty. In this regard, large and small projects are being conceived of. In spite of this the difference between rich and poor continues to be enormous. The accumulation of riches in the hands of few is frightening and this breeds and may always breed conflict. The rural population is attracted to life in the city and this brings with it various social consequences. There is the problem of occupied land to give to small farmers, something which has caused conflict.

[A time dedicated to free interventions followed.]
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