VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2009 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogues is expressing concern for Africans who are recruited by sects, and is thus exhorting priests to teach the faith more urgently.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran affirmed this in an address to the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which began Sunday in Rome.

He was one of 15 prelates who presented interventions to the synod fathers who attended the fifth congregation Wednesday evening.

According to an English summary released by the Vatican, the cardinal underlined the "naturally religious" quality of the African people.

"Long before the arrival of Christianity and Islam," he affirmed, "the populations recognized the existence of a Supreme Being."

Thus, the prelate continued, "Christian missionaries did not reveal God to the Africans" but they brought Jesus Christ to them.

He reported that Islam is also "making constant progress" due to its "confraternities, Koranic schools and mosques."

However, Cardinal Tauran continued, the sects are attracting "many Africans who find themselves in a situation of instability."

Faced to the threat of sects, he underlined his council's commitment to support the African bishops by providing greater faith formation to priests and religious.

"The development of sects," the cardinal said, "could also be an invitation to the pastors to take better care in the transmission of the content of the faith in the African cultural context."

Set an example

Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, also called on bishops and priests to teach their people about the faith, particularly through their witness of reconciliation, justice and peace.

He affirmed, "Priests give example of unity and harmony when the diocesan presbytery functions as a sacramental brotherhood, when they are happy to live in communities of two or three diocesan priests instead of preferring to be parish priests who live alone, and when they wholeheartedly accept a new bishop appointed by the Holy Father without organizing factions with a 'son of the soil' myopic mentality."

The Church's successful appointment of bishops outside their language area is a "powerful message to some African communities wounded by the politico-social virus of extreme ethnicity," the cardinal pointed out.

He continued: "Tribute is due to some priests who were reportedly killed during tribal massacres because they preached charity and harmony without and beyond tribal boundaries."

The prelate added that religious congregations as well "give good witness to universality" because "their members generally come from many different ethnic backgrounds."

He appealed to the diocesan leaders to "honor contracts with religious congregations" to see that "consecrated men and women, catechists, parish house workers and other Church-employed men and women are adequately paid."

"It is a scandal when these humble workers have only holy water to take home at the end of the month," Cardinal Arinze added.

He also pointed out that the offerings given by the people at Mass are not "for the clergy alone but for the poor and the Church in general; and this includes the consecrated people and the catechists."

--- --- ---

On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text: