Interventions From Synod's 6th Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2009 ( Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given today at the Sixth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

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H. Em. Card. Ennio ANTONELLI, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family (VATICAN CITY)

The Holy Father, in his homily during the Inaugural Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, pointed out, with a very incisive expression, how the First World “is exporting its spiritual toxic waste” to Africa and other developing areas. One of these poisons is the so-called “gender theory”, which, heavily disguised, is starting to infiltrate associations, governments and even some ecclesial environments in the African continent, judging from what the Pontifical Council for the Family tells us.

The agents of various international institutions and organizations start from real problems, which must be dutifully resolved, such as the injustice and violence suffered by women, infant mortality, malnutrition and famine, problems related to housing and work. They propose solutions based on the values of equality, health and liberty: sacrosanct concepts, but rendered ambiguous by the new anthropological meanings that are given to them. For example, equality of people no longer just means equal dignity and access to fundamental human rights; but also the irrelevance of the natural differences between men and women, the uniformity of all individuals, as though they were sexually undifferentiated, and therefore the equality of all sexual orientations and behavior: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, polymorphous. Each individual has the right to freely practice (and change, should they wish) their choices in line with their drives, desires and preferences.

This ideology is spread by reproductive health centers, local educational meetings and international TV programs broadcast via satellite. Collaboration of African governments and local groups, including ecclesial groups, is sought, and these groups usually don’t realize the ethically unacceptable anthropological implications of this.

My intervention is intended as an invitation to be vigilant, an exhortation to offer careful instructions to priests, seminarians, religious, Caritas and other lay pastoral workers.

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H. Em. Card. Péter ERDŐ, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, President of the Council of the European Episcopal Conference (C.E.E.C.) (HUNGARY)

We have attentively listened to the address by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, President of SCEAM (SECAM). We can clearly see that our African brother bishops ask for support to reinforce their internal communion and their continental organization. I propose to begin treaties with the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CEEC) on the possibilities of reinforcing collaboration among the African bishops as well as through joint action with the CEEC.

We mention among the institutions of the Church, the Justice and Peace Commission, in numbers 123-126 of the Instrumentum laboris. We would like to add that we need a better understanding of these commissions.

It has been the general experience of the Church that, after Vatican Council II, true riches have emerged, a multitude of organizations to realize the mission and the activities of Christians in the world in different fields of action. However in the last decades, we have also shed more light on the nature of ecclesial organizations: we have detailed the nature of associations of faithful, we have distinguished between private and public juridical persons in the Church. We have underlined that only these latter ones can act on behalf of the Church, as well as the public structures of the hierarchical organization of the Church herself.

To avoid that certain Justice and Peace “Commissions”, created perhaps only according to the state laws or as private associations, become instruments used by political groups, it would be useful to highlight that the National Justice and Peace Commission is normally an organ of the Episcopal Conference itself. This way, we could ensure that the activities of these commissions are an authentic expression of the mission of the Church in the world.

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Rev. F. Kieran O’REILLY, S.M.A., Superior General of the Society of African Missions (UNION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL)

A significant dimension of the growth of the Church on the Continent of Africa has been the number of African men and women now directly involved in the ad gentes mission of the Church, both as members of recently established local missionary congregations and as members of longer established international institutes.

Inspired by their faith commitment, and informed by Catholic Social Teaching, a number of Missionary and Religious Congregations have formed networks to meet this challenge. I refer in particular to the work of the Africa Faith and Justice Network.

The particular concern of these networks is to address issues of structural injustice rooted in European and United States policies that affect Africa adversely.

As the «family of God» the Church is challenged to witness and promote the universality of God’s love for all people and the future unity of humanity. Unfortunately, ethnic, tribal and regional divisions still afflict many parts of the African continent, seriously hampering the development of its peoples. The witness of international missionary and religious communities is both relevant and urgent. These communities embrace a wide range of cultural and ethnic differences within their «Family» as they live and work together in the service of the Gospel. Their presence proclaims the Gospel truth that God does not have favourites, that we are all his children and our common destiny is to be one family in Him.

Africa is poorly served by the mass media, which focuses almost exclusively on the bad news, thus creating a widely accepted narrative of a continent in a constant state of crisis. The `Aid Industry’, too, feeds on selling negative and outmoded stereotypes of Africans as helpless victims of endless wars and constant famines. The people of Africa must become more central to the narrative of Africa that is propagated abroad, International Missionary Congregations and Institutes are ideally situated to assist in this process.

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H. Exc. Mons. Marcel UTEMBI TAPA, Archbishop of Kisangani (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

The political dimension of peace invites the Church in Africa to invent new methods of presenting its social teaching founded on Gospel values capable of favoring peace and understanding among peoples. In agreeing that peace is above all a gift from God, we propose that the Church in Africa involve itself more so that:

— The African political class can be effectively at the service of common good. Towards this, the Church must care for and reinforce guidance and the formation of politicians in the light of the social teachings of the Church;

— A transversal and ecumenical program for civic education of the populations must be established, to promote the citizen’s conscience and responsible participation of the local populations in the management of the patrimony of their countries.

— To organize the populations and base communities in view of the participation of the citizens. The experience of the organization of local Committees of participative governance, which are the apolitical frameworks, would allow the local communities to take charge at the foundation and participate in the development of their environment in dialogue with the local and government electees. This could lead to the emergence of parliamentary ties as permanent structures of pleading the deliberating organs, entrusted with writing the laws and controlling the executive on all levels.

— On the same note, create a sub-regional observatory of national politics as a laboratory for social analysis and perspective, able to warn of the great tendencies of politics in place and their conformity to the finality of the political community which is at the service of common good.

To work towards the birth of a responsible and conscientious political class.

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H. Exc. Mons. Alfred Adewale MARTINS, Bishop of Abeokuta (NIGERIA)

The neo-Pentecostalist groups are often very aggressive and proselytising in their relationship to the Catholic Church. It would seem that this group aims at bringing down the Catholic Church both in her influence as well as in the number of her faithful. This intention is captured in the way some of them refer to the Catholic Church as the dead Church. Their hope is that by getting at the minds and hearts of the youth, they would be able to lure them away and in time cut off the life of the Church as they hope that the young would migrate en masse from the Church.

In order not to help them accomplish this aim, the Church in Africa must devise means by which she would ensure that the whole flock in each parish is kept in view. We must ensure that no one is anonymous in the parishes, the most vulnerable such as job seekers and others, particularly among the youth, in any sort of material or spiritual needs should be supported and assisted where possible. There is need to create a ministry in each parish that attends to the concerns and needs of the young Executives and professionals among our faithful. They are targets of neo-Pentecostalist groups.

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H. Exc. Mons. Louis Ncamiso NDLOVU, O.S.M., Bishop of Manzini (SWAZILAND)

The Catholic Church in Swaziland is still young having arrived in 1914 and numbers some 55 000 adherents in a population of 1 million, meaning that only five percent of Swazis are Catholics. Even though the Church is a minority it remains the largest Single Christian Church in the country. From its arrival the Church participated in social action in many parts of the country. This has received lots of praise from the traditional and political authorities in the land. My predecessors, mainly of European origin, enjoyed good relations with the traditional authorities as well.

In recent years, the relationship between the Church and the traditional and political leaders has become ambivalent. The Church continues to receive much praise from government for her interventions in the area of education, health and programmes for development. As a Church we continue to question the system of governance as we believe that it contributes to the high levels of poverty in the country. The Government criticizes the Church for speaking on issues of governance, insisting that the duty of the Church should be confined to the liturgy and worship and not to be present in the social and political life of the people. This has seen us being befriended by members of civic society, including trade unions and the banned political parties and movements. As a Church we therefore find ourselves in the middle of two opposing forces. This presents a unique opportunity for the Church as she can minister to the government and members of civic society.

The theme of this Synod challenges us to lead an authentic Christian life. This requires that the Church be exemplary to the unbelievers and other Christians too. We have every duty to contribute to the well being of society and to be a beacon of hope in the face of many challenges and difficulties. The Swazi people are a homogenous group, having the same culture and speaking the same language. As such the Swazi people can be likened to one big family. We are thus once again called to live as a family. Every family has to face some problems and disagreements at some point. We should deal with these problems in a truthful and honest manner and above all in a spirit of charity.

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H. Exc. Mons. Paul R. RUZOKA, Archbishop of Tabora (TANZANIA)

Reconciliation is necessary in carrying out apostolate and drawing from the teaching of St. Paul, who points out that God is the starting point.

Given sad events like civil wars that are affecting the continent, the church’s identity is o at stake. Very often we speak of a family that is loving, sharing and united in every day activities and living together. But more often sons and daughters of the church are equally involved in conflicts instead of building bridges among conflicting parties over vested interests.

The Church is instrumental in the healing mission of Christ; and all Christians should work to effect this.

Agents of evangelisation (Bishops, clergy and religious) together with the laity need to employ the arms of faith and seek a more profound conversion in pursuit for holiness through listening to the Word of God and frequenting sacraments; participating in prayer life and spiritual exercises; addressing questions posed by people we live with and sharing and serving them as neighbours.

Africa is engulfed in so many problems mainly due to bad leadership – by Leaders who are not God fearing, but who are rather all out to enrich themselves by looting their own countries, to the point of plunging their people into anarchy.

Obviously, there have been good leaders who affirmed the aspirations of their citizens who cherished them. We have in mind people like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania whose legacy is a unified nation.

The church should help young people by reemphasizing the human, spiritual and intellectual formation particularly in our schools up to university level.

Faith has to take precedence in our formation work. Moreover, there is a need to form reconciliation committees to work together with justice and peace commission in our dioceses addressing issues of social conflict and offering civic education.

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Rev. F. Emmanuel TYPAMM, C.M., Secretary General of the «Confederation of the Conferences of Superiors Major of Africa and Madagascar» (MADAGASCAR)

Consecrated persons in Africa and Madagascar are becoming aware and wish that other apostolic agents (laity, priests, bishops) would become aware of reconciliation, justice and peace, or in other words, that justice and peace which lead to reconciliation, require dying, require the loss of life for the truth according to the Gospel.

The theme of the Synod invites consecrated persons to promote peace within their Institutes: In keeping positive relations in the community between different ethnic groups, between different nationalities.

This can occur through:

— The culture of “same laws for all”

— The culture of alternating power and therefore detachment towards positions in the Institutes.

— The culture of the mission accomplished with love

— The culture of using the material goods of the Institute without appropriating them.

We propose to unite and collaborate on a very important aspect that could prevent us from speaking about reconciliation, justice and peace to the displaced persons on the continent:

1. Improve maternal healthcare so that less mothers die when giving birth and also diminish infant mortality.

2. Reinforce the means of prevention and taking responsibility for persons suffering from: malaria, AIDS, mental illnesses, epilepsy, etc.

3. Encourage: Pharmacists, doctors, healers to put in place modern healthcare centers; The creation of health insurance.

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H. Exc. Mons. Martin Albert HAPPE, M. Afr., Bishop of Nouakchott (MAURITANIA)

One of the characteristics of the diocese of Nouakchott is that it covers the entire territory of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. In effect all the inhabitants of this country are Muslims, and this for centuries, resulting in the observation that all the Catholic Christian living in this country are non-Mauritanians, the faithful as well as the pastors. To continue describing the environment, I would add that the first priest that came to the country and did not have the status as military chaplain celebrated his first mass at Christmas 1957.

Already the first bishop, Mons Michel Bernard, did not want to settle in being the only pastor for thousands of Christians living in the country, but insisted that priests and religious persons turn towards the autochthonous population to be for them witnesses of God Love revealed by and in the
person of Jesus Christ.

One of the instruments we gave ourselves to achieve this is the Mauritania Caritas. Founded in 1970, today it employs approximately 120 persons. Among these at least 110 men and women are Mauritanians, therefore Muslims. All these collaborators must have knowledge of our deep motivations and underwrite them. They must know that for us, Christians, all human beings are equal in dignity, regardless of their sex, their social or ethnic status. They must know that we are not there to help our racial brothers, our families, the people of our religion, but all persons finding themselves in need. We must work towards getting them to find, once again, the dignity wanted for them by their Creator.

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H. Exc. Mons. Vincent COULIBALY, Archbishop of Conakry, President of the Episcopal Conference (GUINEA)

The interest brought by the Church-Family of God in Guinea on questions of reconciliation, justice and peace, has been manifested often in the interventions by the pastors. We recall the courage and determination of our predecessors who denounced the malicious traps of powers placed to take hostage what is most noble in man: freedom.

We can count upon many charismatic figures who have thrown into the heart of our people the seeds of reconciliation, justice and peace. The first ones to come to mind are the missionaries who were deported in 1967 essentially because their prophetic vision on what the fate of our people would be. The interventions of our two immediate predecessors: Mons Raymond-Marie Tchidimbo and Mons Robert Sarah, on the theme of reconciliation, justice and peace today still maintain all their pertinence for Guineans.

In their wake, the episcopate today does not stop attracting the attention of managers on the question of reconciliation, justice and peace. They have not stopped playing the role of guardians of the city gates. It has, in several declarations, invited the Guineans to dialogue. The last declaration was published on September 25th 2009.

Unfortunately his plea from September 25th was not heeded because, when the demon-money speaks, its numerous adepts are pleased and nothing stops them from acting. Even death is not an obstacle to them. Thus on September 28th 2009, the people were bereaved again about the tragic death of tens or hundreds of persons because of a demonstration violently repressed by the military.

This action by the episcopate also relies on the contribution of an organized and committed laity on the land through, for example, the Catholic Organization for Human Promotion (COHP) and the Justice and Peace Commission. However we are still far from this holy laity, which the First Synod called for in its wishes. The Pope’s plea in his first Encyclical “Deus caritas est”, the difference between the just order and the just man, motivated us even more in the formation of the laity.

On the other hand, we believe it is urgent to encourage inter-religious dialogue between three parts to create peace: Christianity, African Traditional religion and Islam. To put the spotlight on the spirit of fraternity and solidarity of the African cultural genius.

Finally, we address a warm thanks to the Holy Father for his support to our country during the Angelus of last Sunday.

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H. Exc. Mons. Nicolas DJOMO LOLA, Bishop of Tshumbe, President of the Episcopal Conference (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

Looking at the consequences from the wars and violence in the Dem. Rep. Congo. We need to flay the lies and subterfuges used by the predators and backers of these wars and violence. The tribalism constantly mentioned as the reason for these wars in Dem. Rep. Congo are just a cover. The ethnic differences are used as an excuse to pillage the natural resources.

We deplore the fact that the international community is not doing enough to put an end to these wars and violence, by finding out the true causes for all of this: the pillage of natural resources. It has limited itself to the healing of the effects of the wars rather than to attack the causes in a determined and persuasive way. At the same time, we deplore the fact that the suffering and the human lives stolen in Dem. Rep. Congo by these wars have not spurred the same indignation and the same condemnation as occurs for other countries. Otherwise how can we explain the resurgence and the virulence of the violence that we continue to condemn, at the tips of our tongues, without planning effective actions to put an end, once and for all, to the causes of all this violence. Do we not share the same humanity?

In a world where it is evermore evident that we make up a global village, concerted and global actions should be made to find an end to the violence done in Africa in the sacking of its resources, to finally allow this continent, at the beginning of the third millennium, to live in peace and develop equally and in solidarity with others.

For this, we suggest that this Synod invite all Christians, in the name of Jesus Christ, who through his supreme sacrifice on the Cross, gave us the true measure of each human being’s dignity; then, invite all men and all women of good will, on behalf of our human community, to publically condemn and denounce those that back the wars and violence in Africa.

Otherwise we become accomplices in the evil done to our brother.

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H. Exc. Mons. Jorge FERREIRA DA COSTA ORTIGA, Archbishop of Braga, President of the Episcopal Conference (PORTUGAL)

Portugal and Europe must reinterpret the missionary venture taking on new attitudes and committed to the life of the peoples they have evangelized.

In the past, with greater or lesser faithfulness, they taught about Jesus Christ and His doctrine. Today they must continue to journey to see Christ in the real and concrete needs, doing what must be done to Christ (Instrumentum laboris 35).

To go to the encounter with Christ in the needy through a total dedication must have a universal dimension that does not allow the exception of persons even for religious reasons.

To travel is synonymous of courage and does not admit any tiredness. Only like this will the civilization of love become concrete.

If Europe needs to encounter the needy, the local communities must organize themselves by eliminating the excessive bureaucracies and reaching, in particular, all those without a voice to require.

To give is important, to give of oneself when prepared to a voluntary organization allows people to build their own happiness.

Perhaps the time has come for an authentic union of communities or dioceses through the sharing of material goods and persons who offer themselves for service in school, in the healthcare area, etc…

Europe must return to Africa not only to bring knowledge of Christ but also to encounter Him in all the peoples and in the logic of the Beatitudes and in the description of the Last Judgment.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food… what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:35 and 45).

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H. Exc. Mons. Angelo AMATO, S.D.B., Titular Archbishop of Sila, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (VATICAN CITY)

From the beginning of Christianity, Africa has been a land of saints, from the great Doctor, Augustine, to the Ugandan martyrs Carlo Lwanga, Mattia Maulumba Kalemba and companions and the extraordinary figure of the Sudanese Saint Giuseppina Bakhita, canonized in 2000. Even today, there are 22 nations with 44 beatifications and canonizations in process, which concern 13 Blesseds, 4 Venerables and 27 Servants of God. All categories of the faithful are represented: the Servant of God Alfred Simon Diban Ki-Zerbo, of Burkina Faso, is a catechist, father of a family; the Servant of God Eulalia ’Ma-Gabriel Mokhosi, of Lesotho, is the mother of a family; the Servant of God Julius Kambarage Nyerere, of Tanzania, is a lay person known throughout the whole world as a great scholar and politician; Blessed C
lementina Anuarite Nengapeta, from Congo, is a Sister martyr; the Servant of God Simone Mpeke (Baba Simon), from Cameroon, is a priest; Blessed Cyprian (Michael Iwene Tansi), from Nigeria, is a Cistercian. In Congo, the diocesan enquiry is in process on the presumed martyr the Servant of God Emilio Biayenda, Cardinal of Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Brazzaville.

But heroic witnesses to the faith are many in Africa. It is the duty of the Bishops to promote the sanctification of priests and the faithful, but also the discernment and development of the heroic exercise of Christian virtue of the baptized in their dioceses. The saints are a true treasure of the local church. Indeed they accomplish a triple task: of evangelization, because they demonstrate the beauty and existential possibility of the Gospel of Jesus; of inculturation, because They show, not with laboratory theories but with their existence that the Gospel can establish roots in all cultures and transform them for the better; of reconciliation, because as heroic witnesses to Christ’s love, they bring forgiveness, peace and justice in the community.

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H. Exc. Mons. Peter Martin MUSIKUWA, Bishop of Chikwawa (MALAWI)

Article number 14 of the Instrumentum Laboris states that: «The Pastors in Africa, in union with the Bishop of Rome, who presides over the universal communion in charity, feel that further discussions need to be done on the problems already treated at the preceding Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops and taken up in Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa». The Episcopal Conference of Malawi feels that one area which makes part of this continuing dynamic is the family. In this regard, article number 20 of Instrumentum Laboris articulates that «creativity is necessary in addressing the spiritual and moral needs of the family».

Being ‘domestic churches’, places of pardon, reconciliation and peace, most African families are not enjoying total harmony. They are facing a lot of challenges such as HIV/AIDS-related problems, multicultural globalization (Instrumentum Laboris n. 72), deterioration of cultural value of marriage, political influence and lack of role models. True love and reconciliation is lacking. There is still then a need for a qualitative pastoral follow-up, continuous catechesis of marriage and family life.

This can be done at various levels: Episcopal Conference, Diocese and Parish. Besides this Christian Movements/Associations, such as Family Movements, Christian Marriage Encounter can be of much assistance. These Movements/Associations do help spouses understand better the nature and essence of matrimonial vocation. They also assist in deepening marital love and fidelity in the family. They give hope and encouragement especially to the families facing difficulties.

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H. Exc. Mons. Barry Alexander Anthony WOOD, O.M.I., Titular Bishop of Babra, Auxiliary Bishop of Durban (SOUTH AFRICA)

I thought it would be beneficial to my sisters and brothers at the Synod to concentrate on one initiative of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), which we took after our first democratic elections in 1994. That was the creation of a Catholic Parliamentarian Liaison Office (CPLO).

The aim of this Office is to do precisely what the title says and that is to liaise with Parliament. Although South Africa is only 9% Catholic, of the 440 members of Parliament, 22% are Catholic. However, and this is an important point, the Office liaises with, does research for and informs ALL Parliamentarians irrespective of their religious or political backgrounds.

We have a number of full-time researchers who do in-depth research on all aspects of legislation coming before Parliament. We do this from a Gospel-based value system, drawing heavily from Catholic Social Teaching. Parliamentarians have neither the resources nor the time to do their own in-depth research on any given subject. Therefore these research papers are very much appreciated by many.

We also give verbal and written Catholic positions on upcoming legislation at Parliamentary Select Committee levels. These papers are made available to a much wider public as are reflective insights and comments on newly passed legislation. This creates a national and at times an international awareness among a much wider community about public policy issues and the response of the Catholic Church.

The impact of the CPLO has had an enormous influence on Parliament over the last twelve years and this influence continues to grow. Social informal contact with Parliamentarians is another important aspect of the work.
Parliamentarians are often invited to social functions organized by the Church simply to acknowledge their presence and thank them.

The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office, on a regular basis, organizes discussions on key issues of public interest, such as the situation in Zimbabwe today or new legislation pertaining to Children’s Rights. Well known speakers are invited from across the political spectrum and from Church circles and these public debates draw large audiences.

The Office, twice a year, organizes training for people from other countries identified and sent by their respective Bishops’ Conferences. To date Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, the D.R.C. and Sierra Leone to name but a few, have benefited from these training programmes.

The Southern Africa Bishops’ Conference would like to endorse Archbishop Berhaneyesus SOURAPHIEL’s (Addis Ababa) suggestion that a full time Catholic permanent representative be appointed to the African Union, with more than simply observer status.

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H. Exc. Mons. Buti Joseph TLHAGALE, O.M.I., Archbishop of Johannesburg, President of the Episcopal Conference (SOUTH AFRICA)

In the Instrumentum Laboris, the question of inculturation is barely touched upon. And yet Ecclesia in Africa categorically stated that inculturation is a sine qua non in the work of evangelization. Without inculturation, there is neither genuine evangelization nor genuine reconciliation. After all, «the gospel is grounded in the human terrain of culture» (I.L. 73).

Moral values embedded in the diverse African cultures, alongside the gospel values, are threatened by the new global ethic which aggressively seeks to persuade African governments and communities to accept new and different meanings of concepts of family, marriage and human sexuality. (This has been pointed out in Cardinal Turkson’s presentation ). The cultures of Africa are under heavy strain from liberalism, secularism and from lobbyists who squat at the United Nations. Africa faces a second wave of colonization both subtle and ruthless at the same time.

The most critical challenge facing the Church in Africa is not the lack of analysis, the lack of an understanding of issues and their interconnectedness. The challenge is the lack of collective (political) willpower to implement resolutions made; to find workable solutions to the challenges our societies face, to rise to the unpleasant challenges of leadership. A pressing question needs to be asked. To whom are our regional and continental associations accountable? What are the purposes of these platforms apart from expressing compassion, solidarity and collegiality? Members pay lip service to regional and continental conferences. Dues are not paid. How then are the resolutions to be implemented when we ourselves sabotage our own organizations, frustrate staff and demoralize elected board members instead of guiding, helping and collectively setting up and reviewing goals. If the resolutions of the Synod are to be implemented our national, regional and continental conferences have to take the responsibility.

Secondly we as a hierarchy, appear to be working alone on these issues that cut across the continent. Lay people, by virtue of their baptism, have a significant role to play. They are expected to witness in the public square, in their families and places of work. Their Christian voice in the face of
the many challenges in Africa, is weak, muffled or simply silent. The hierarchy is without credible partners in the work of the transformation of Africa. Lay Catholics need to be given a voice in order to stand up and be counted for their Catholic faith. The hierarchy cannot do it alone.

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The Catholic Church in Africa inspires admiration and respect even from those who do not share its teachings, thanks to the nature and stability of the structures which reflect its communion nature. The spirit of communion was breathed into it from the beginning through missionary actions and lasts there despite some destructive tendencies and forces trying to eradicate it.

If certain indices of division coming from the disorder in the city are also found in the temple, this is due, among other things, to a misunderstanding and exploitation of the structures of the Church in Africa by certain parties.
To erase these, we suggest that the Synod Assembly:

— Recall the respect for the spirit and the constitutional laws of the Church’s structures at all levels;

— Recommend that in the creation of ecclesiastical circumscriptions, from the most elementary to the more complex (CEV’s, parishes, dioceses, ecclesiastical regions, etc.), these not be limited to territorial limitations or tribal or ethnic language limitations, to make obvious the fact that the self-same essence of the Church is that of a family of God open towards all;

— Insist in minimizing the tribal and ethnic tendencies while taking care in the formation of Catholic faithful, pastoral agents, priests and religious, that they may be filled with the spirit underlying the structures of dialogue and participation in the Church;

— Give particular emphasis on the socio-political formation of the lay heads in line with the social teachings of the Church, to strengthen their Catholic faith to allow them to act in politics and in the cities as artisans of communion and unity;

— Giving an importance to the ability to choose of formators in the institutes of priest, religious formation, in Institutes of Higher Education of Religious Sciences, of Catholic and ecclesiastical universities, to be able to breathe this communion spirit into them and beyond any ethnic and tribal division.

— Restate that in the canon laws at all levels, persons are nominated without being influenced by their tribal or ethnic appurtenance.

— In Catholic school and in Movements of Catholic Action, recruit teachers and formators imbued with the ecclesial spirit with the intention of ensuring a healthy and communion vision of the Church as family of the children of God to the youth.

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H. Exc. Mons. John Olorunfemi ONAIYEKAN, Archbishop of Abuja (NIGERIA)

At the holy mass of the Solemn Inauguration of this Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, the Holy Father Benedict XVI drew attention to the «deep sense of God» of the African peoples, and declared that «Africa represents an enormous spiritual ‘lung’ for humanity». This is in line with the teaching of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II in «Ecclesia in Africa” (cf nos. 7, 57, and 67).

This spiritual soil has proved fertile for the Gospel message. But so also has it been for Islam. Thus, our continent has become a home for both monotheistic faiths, a fact that we must all admit and live with, for the foreseeable future.

“Ecclesia in Africa” called for a systematic dialogue with Islam. Despite many difficulties in many places, the route of dialogue has proved to be the best way.

We have learnt some lessons in the past fifteen years. We have made progress in building upon the general sense which Muslims and Christians in Africa have of belonging to the same families, communities and nations. We have learnt to join hands to address common challenges on the bases of commonly shared spiritual and moral values, which we discover, often with joyful surprise, whenever we open our hearts and minds to one another.

My plea and strong proposal is that this synod challenges the whole Church of Africa to reach out to the whole Islamic community of Africa, from grass roots to continental levels.

This will not happen by chance. It has to be planned, and structures, like Inter-religious Councils, put in place for it. The good news is that already much is happening in this direction which needs to be sustained and expanded. We cannot fight the battle for reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa on our own as Catholic Church. We have to join hands with other spiritual forces on our continent, to liberate our people from our self-imposed bondage, to the glory of our Almighty and Merciful God and Father of all.

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H. Em. Card. Paul Josef CORDES, President of the Pontificial Council «Cor Unum» (VATICAN CITY)

Today, many Christians are working to resolve the poverty of men in Africa. A popular German political representative, who does not belong to a Christian party, recently said: the Church’s effort seems to be half of the total commitment on that continent. This way Christians also promote peace, often broken because of the material poverty.

The second concept of this Synod is “justice”. To achieve this, the Church never stops raising its voice. The recent Encyclical Caritas in veritate states: “ justice is the primary way of Charity” (6). Therefore justice has its terrestrial dimension. However it is not the mere fruit of human effort or political finesse. Card. Turkson, the General Relator, explained this very well: seen through the eyes of faith, justice is righteousness before God – the duty of the human commitment and at the same time free gift of Christ the Savior.

Here justice runs into the third concept of the suggested reflections, reconciliation. This too begins in man’s heart. Therefore, the focal point of our consultations should be rooted in the heart.

So, missionary orders should be consolidated in the apostolic work. Or even the new movements, whose commitment in Africa in our Dicastery Cor Unum is ever admired and followed.

These groups join material aid against poverty with the proclamation of the Gospel. And their anthropology does not tear bodily and spiritual needs from man, which apparently is in need of separate responses. Cor Unum does its utmost so that false models are not imposed on the “homo africans”, so that a healthy vision of man, foreseen by nature and revelation can be found once again through collaboration.

* * *

H. Exc. Mons. Cornelius Fontem ESUA, Archbishop of Bamenda (CAMEROON)

In many of our countries we rejoice to see that our Christian population is growing. The liturgy is celebrated with joy and there is active participation. On the other hand we are saddened by the fact there are tensions and conflicts not only in society in general but also among our Christian communities. It is not uncommon that authors of acts of social injustices, bribery and corruption are Christians. There are long standing family and tribal prejudices which are often the cause of conflicts, handed down from one generation to another, without any intention of mutual forgiveness or reconciliation. Yet many of these people can be considered as fervent and practicing Christians who are making an honest effort to be good.

Reconciliation, justice and peace are the work of God’s grace which comes to us through the Word of God and the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist. Two things are therefore necessary: 1) A more regular celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist, which are the Sacraments of healing, communion and service; 2) A more prophetic proclamation of the Word of God, in and out of season.

There is a decreasing number of Christians, especially the youth, who frequent the Sacrament of Penance and when they do, it does not touch them profoundly. It is more of a ritual act,
in the manner of the traditional rites of reconciliation and purification. Those who participate in it, though externally reconciled still harbor sentiments of hatred and rancor when may lead to vendetta whenever the opportunity offers itself.

A more frequent and communal celebration of the Sacrament of Penance according to the new rite published a few years ago, which makes a profuse use of the Word of God, would bring out more the social dimensions of sin and its effects, and underline the fact that reconciliation is not just a private affair with God but it also implies reconciliation with one another; it re-establishes peace and harmony in the community and calls for the fulfilment of social obligations and the practice of justice. Such a celebration invites the whole community to rejoice as it is indicated by the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

We need Priests who make themselves more available for the Sacrament of Penance in the example of the Cure’ d’Ars, and who administer it in a meaningful way, with a personal touch accompanied by counseling based on the Word of God.

* * *

H. Exc. Mons. Philippe OUÉDRAOGO, Archbishop of Ouagadougou (BURKINA FASO)

Liberal and neoliberal thinking, strengthened by economic power and the power of the media, wants us to think that the human or religious communities have nothing to contribute about the behavior of individuals, in the name of moral libertinism and relativism.

Our African human and religious communities, on a whole, reject the legal practices of many otherwise Christian western countries, such as abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriages, euthanasia… They respect the promotion of values relating to family and life.

Today’s means of communication have made the world a single village. More and more, certain radios and television, internet sites, all of them held by economic power and interests, deliberately broadcast programs that try to impose Western society’s one thought. The media’s racket organized during the Holy Father’s journey to Cameroon and Angola last March is a pathetic example of this. Certain programs aimed at French-speaking listeners, European as well as African, wanted to make them believe that some African priests and religious studying or in mission in Rome or elsewhere in Europe, survived by begging and prostitution, abandoned by the Vatican and the religious congregations. Did we need to show disagreement with the Holy Father? Evidently, a coalition was trying to reach a clear but shameful objective, by distracting the Africans to stop them from listening to the Holy Father’s words on the problems of injustice, violence and their causes.

Africans do not know how to be violent to fight this imperialism and tyranny of the one thought. However, we ask them for some self-restraint and caution, respect and tolerance, and above all intellectual honesty when expressing their ideas, which do not serve human dignity and could generate intolerable suffering hostile behavior, to the point of hatred among peoples.

* * *

Rev. F. Damian WEBER, C.M.M., Superior General of the Missionaries of Mariannhill (UNION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL)

As a member of an institute of consecrated life, an individual agrees to be consecrated to Jesus Christ and to accept His mission and His vision. Both are beautifully expressed in Luke 4, 18-21.

And if we add John 20,21 where Jesus says «As the Father has sent me am sending you» we can say that a consecrated person continues the mission of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

In Africa, today, that could mean to go as healer to the wounds of the world, and not to look away or flee into the comfort of consumption and power.

In this context evangelical counsels could be a way of life that signifies a voluntary solidarity with the victims of injustice and suppression, an identification with those who suffer material and social distress; it could mean solidarity with the sexually discriminated and exploited and solidarity with those in social and political bondage who are not allowed to determine their own destiny.

We know that one of the most basic needs of every individual is to learn and to experience that I am respected and accepted by God for what I am. But because God does not speak to each one directly, this is something that the individual has to hear from the others and I see this as a crucial role of community-life.

lt calls for the experience of reconciliation before we preach about it and before we bring it into the world and to the people around us who seem to be in need of it.

The communities of consecrated life as well as the Church need to facilitate this reconciliation with God and with one another; need to experience first at home the healing God offers, and the justice of God’s unconditional commitment to each person. Then the Church and these communities will be living witnesses and fruitful instruments for Jesus Christ and for the reconciliation, justice and peace, which ultimately are gifts of His spirit.

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