Interventions of Auditors at 10th Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 ( Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given by auditors Saturday at the Tenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

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Prof. Edem KODJO, Secretary General Emeritus of the Organization of African Union (O.U.A.), Prime Minister Emeritus, Professor of Patrology at the Institute St. Paul of Lomé (TOGO)

1. The Church in Africa progresses but

– the Continent is less well,

– many injustices end up as large conflicts.

2. Africa needs reconciliation and peace.

3. Why aren’t Africans reconciled and how to do this?

– the goal of reconciliation.

4. Reconciliation, Justice and Peace

5. The role of the Christian laity

“salt of the earth and light of the world”

Prerequisites: taking conscience and formation.

6. The Christian formation.

7. Propositions.

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Mrs. Geneviève Amalia Mathilde SANZE, Responsible of the Work of Mary – Focolari Mouvement, Abidjan (IVORY COAST)

The Focolari Movement has been present in Sub-Saharan Africa since 1963. Since then, its presence has spread throughout the African nations even if this was achieved in different ways. Today more than 170,000 persons try to live its spirituality.

How does it contribute to reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa? Its spirituality being communion, the members wish to witness Christ by putting the Gospel into practice. The Movement thus works for the formation of “new men” who, renewed by the Gospel in all aspects of their life, are able to transform society.

By taking one example, we can speak about the “New Evangelization done at Fontem, with the population of Cameroon. In 2000, Chiara Lubich, strengthened by the fraternal experience lived by all together, addressed the population, proposing: “… it is like a vow where we commit ourselves to being always fully in peace among ourselves and making peace again in cases where it is threatened… All, you are free to follow the faith of your fathers, if in your conscience you feel that, however you cannot be free to not love”. The population followed this proposal with enthusiasm. Then, with the king, a concrete plan was elaborated and regular meetings have started in ten villages. The fruits are many: requests for pardon and reconciliation between relatives and neighbors, respect for moral values, a return to the sacraments, an experience of internal peace which gives and creates the family in the home as well as in the local community, etc. Today, 16 traditional chiefs and their peoples participate in the “New Evangelization” which grows each year. The kings (Fon) have stated many times that they no longer hold meetings for reconciliation, because the problems have been resolved in fraternal charity.

In 1992 in Nairobi (Kenya), Chiara Lubich founded a school for inculturation, whose objective was to deepen the roots of the Gospel in the African cultures in the light of the charism of unity. Each seminar is held on a specific subject which is approached according to African traditions, the Holy Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Church, thus according to the charism of unity. This is an experience of increasing interest, to discover and to express the values and the limitations of our own cultures, A domain that is truly new, even for us Africans. This is a true reciprocal donation which allows us to grow in love and in life, giving us a new consciousness of our own roots and opens us to new horizons, in giving us the possibility of realizing our common patrimony. It also helps us to let the voice of Africa be heard in the rest of the world, in a relationship of mutual dignity in view of the universal fraternity and for the harmonious development of the socio-cultural and ecclesial life.

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Rev. Sister Jacqueline MANYI ATABONG, Assistant of the Superior General of the Sisters of Saint Teresa of Jesus Child in the Diocese of Buea; Coordinator for Africa of the International Catholic Commission for Prison Pastoral Care (I.C.C.P.P.C.), Douala (CAMEROON)

Our world is becoming increasingly fearful, due to the increasing crime rate. The retributive justice system practiced today, has failed to reduce crime. Offenders do not seem to be threatened enough by imprisonment, re-offending is on the increase, victims remain in pain, offenders in bondage and the society in fear.

We need to ask questions and revise our methods! Is our age-old method of attending to crime and offenders as church still effective or do we need new strategies? We know many of our prisons are dungeons and are overpopulated with poor and disadvantaged persons. They are structurally inadequate and carry out practices which are dehumanizing, violent, suppressive and may sometimes cause death. The rights of prisoners are not respected and reinsertion of ex-prisoners is an ordeal. We know that in many dioceses the prison apostolate is either non-existent, poorly organized, with little or no trained personnel and have minimal or no support from the Church authority and State.

For the church to better fulfil her ministry of reconciliation, she needs to be more than ever a reconciled community, a place where reconciliation is not only proclaimed but also truly lived. She would need to take every opportunity to make sure that the apostolate to those affected by crime is not neglected. Christ condemns any law or practice which does not save life. Many of our prison institutions do not promote life. If we as Church can do something about it but fail to do so we shall be answerable to our Lord.

What alternatives do we then have? We need a better organization of the prison chaplaincy at national, diocesan, and parochial levels with the involvement of small Christian communities, properly trained personnel and a team which offers holistic care.

Restorative Justice! Restorative Justice is a process in which all those affected by an incident of wrongdoing come together to deal with the aftermath. They share their feelings, respond, address, take responsibility and acknowledge the ongoing pains, hurts and needs of a person who has been harmed, a person who has caused harm, and a community affected by harm in such a way that the community may find healing.

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Dr. Pierre TITI NWEL, Coordinator Emeritus of the National Service Justice and Peace of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (C.E.N.C.), Yaoundé (CAMEROON)

In the world of today, leaders who have the good of their citizens and honor towards their country at heart, are those who are freely elected and regularly controlled in their actions, by the people. In most countries, individual access to power escapes the people’s control. Thus our leaders do as they wish and how they wish. This is why we suffer so much. My conviction, which I would like to share, is that before or while the Church tries to convert the hearts of our leaders, she must grasp this simple truth, that all citizens of a country have the right and duty to freely choose their leaders and dismiss them at the opportune moment.
We perceive this truth in an intellectual way, but we must organize ourselves to concretely achieve this, by fighting, together with civil society and political forces, against the confiscation of power by iniquitous laws.

In the last few years, the Church committed herself here and there to the observation of elections. She must go further now, by opening the eyes of her faithful and the men and women of good will to political realities and their impact on the lives of each and everyone. This is the task of accompanying the people on the path to democracy that the Ecclesia in Africa assigned to the Church. In doing this the clergy should not have a bad conscience: for the most part they are citizens in the country where they work and they teach the people about citizenship.

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