Interventions From Synod's 11th Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2009 ( Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given today at the Eleventh General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

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H. Exc. Mons. George Cosmas Zumaire LUNGU, Bishop of Chipata, President of the Episcopal Conference (ZAMBIA)

We have seen justice and peace commissions established in almost all our parishes and even in some Small Christian Communities (SCC). These commissions are making a huge difference in helping our Christians to make informed interventions in social matters. In part, because of the work of these justice and peace commissions, the Catholic Church, in Zambia, is considered by Catholics and non-Catholics as an institution that is credible and consistent in the promotion of human rights.

We have also been blessed in the area of social communications where we now have Catholic Community Radio stations in all but one of our ten dioceses. The radio stations are playing a big role in our evangelizing mission, such as the promotion of good governance and civic education. Rural communities, where illiteracy is very high, are now finding their voice, freely articulating their faith on radio on matters of justice in their own communities. Most of our radio stations also routinely make space for non-Catholics.

However, we are not complacent. We are aware that we have numerous challenges. For instance, like other countries blessed with mineral resources, we have multinational corporations in our country who have shown very little interest in promoting the welfare of our people, especially in the extractive industries like the mining sector. This sector is impacting negatively on the environment. For this reason Zambia is hosting a big international meeting on the impact of extractive industries on poor countries soon after this Synod concludes.

Furthermore, we are greatly challenged by the impact of poverty on the environment. For example, poverty is leading to wanton destruction of forests through charcoal burning and unsustainable cultivation methods. As a Church we need to come up with ways of mitigating this situation. I wish to urge, therefore, that this Synod makes a clear and strong statement on our concerns regarding issues of environmental justice as a contribution to the upcoming Copenhagen Conference on the Environment.

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H. Em. Card. Wilfrid Fox NAPIER, O.F.M., Archbishop of Durban (SOUTH AFRICA)

It is true there have been few coups d’etat since the last Session of the African Synod in 1994, but the monster that usurps power undemocratically has by no means disappeared. Rather, it has changed its appearance and modus operandi.

We may no longer see individual leaders assuming absolute power and declaring themselves «President for Life». But more and more we are seeing the political parties taking on that mantle.

For example, the following countries in Southern Africa – Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique – have since liberation been governed, or should we say, ruled by the same party.

Of course there is nothing wrong with this, if the electorate freely and fairly gives it that mandate. However there are signs to suggest that this is not the full picture.

— When a Party arrogates to itself all credit for achieving liberation,
— when it claims that it alone knows what the people want or need, even though it refuses to ask or listen to them,

— when it forces through legislation and imposes policies which are patently against the known wishes of the people,

— when it claims that anyone with contrary views is ipso facto a counterrevolutionary, anti-transformation racist, then something has to be seriously wrong. In fact it suggests that the Party has already effected a coup d’etat in all but name. To add insult to injury, the Party declares itself to be pro poor, and thus committed to implementing pro poor policies, even as its stalwarts enrich themselves so ravenously, that the country’s Ginni co-efficient (the gap between the richest and the poorest) places it at the top of the league!

The coup d’etat is surely in place when the Party chooses to listen to its ideological allies, rather than to the poor and needy who represent the majority that elected it.

The coup is complete, when the Party identifies itself so completely with the State, that its president can feel safe claiming: «(our Party) will rule until Jesus Christ returns»! Is he not implying that nothing, not even the democratic process, will dislodge it from power?

Brothers and Sisters, that is where more and more leaders are taking our Continent. In the process they are turning their back on their religious and cultural heritage in which God features prominently. Instead they are embracing a godless and lifeless ideology, which has wreaked havoc on the poor wherever it has been imposed.

This is surely reason to pray and work for a miracle that will bring true and sustainable liberation, not from colonizers, but this time from the dictatorship of the all powerful Party, which has taken power in the Silent Coup d’etat!

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H. Exc. Mons. Jean-Pierre TAFUNGA, S.D.B., Archbishop Coadjutor Lubumbashi (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

In most African cultures, evil is conceived of as the consequence of a transgression of what is prescribed, whether divine precepts – which unconditionally call for obedience and submission – or a social law dictated by the authorities that govern as well as ritualistic interdicts or prescriptions. Any action that diminishes or destroys life and any act or attitude and behavior that breaks the unity, the order or the harmony of things are also considered as evils.

Depending on the type of transgression, the person involved is called to admit in all honesty to the evil committed. This confession is generally made to the head, the guarantor of the social order or to a healer. In certain cases, the confession is made before the community. The offender is called on to manifest his firm resolution to make reparation for the wrongdoing.

The person who must make this individual reparation is the one who committed the wrongdoing or, by default, their family. The reparation is made by paying the prescribed expenses, the damages and interest. According to the cultures, the expenses are equal to an amount of money prescribed by tradition according to the gravity of the fault. The damages consist in offering a living animal or an animal caught while hunting.

The wronged person can then grant pardon to those who offended him. Reparation closes the process as soon as the person is forgiven and the reparation has been effected.

The apex of reparation is the rite of reconciliation. For fear of punishment (immediate death, brutal, unexpected, etc.) that comes directly from God or a fetish, the offender should make this rite of reconciliation to perfect his approach and obtain forgiveness. This rite occurred in a sacred place, before the community and the officiator (mystagogue) who presided over the ceremony.

The forms of confessions, the attitudes of the penitent, the physical abuse, the materials and objects used and their symbolism as well as the gestures and formulae pronounced by the officiator to purify the penitent differ between the various tribes.

The confession is always followed by advice and severe admonitions to help towards definitive conversion. It is accompanied by rites among which we would like to point out, notably: the ritualized ceremony of the blessing and the great pardon; the festive and community meal, symbol of joy in having recovered a positive situation after the error and having reconciled the members of a community; the payment of honorariums to the officiator; the rite of appeasement of the avenging fetishes or spirits when one is cursed by the one offended.

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H. Exc. Mons. Louis NZALA KIANZA, Bishop of Popokabaka (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

We think that it is an imperative that solidarity is seen as not limited to an exchange of pastoral experiences but necessarily takes into account the vital question of sharing personnel and goods.

In fact, the serious probl
ems of poverty, misery, the tragedy of hunger, the lack of access to medical care and other primordial needs that most African countries are experiencing, demands of our Churches today a new spirit of solidarity, communion and inventive charity. The Churches of Africa must be more daring, more inventive and more proactive to develop the structures able to inscribe this organic solidarity into their ecclesial praxis .

Without neglecting the important dimension of solidarity at the level of the universal Church, it is time to develop more the relations within the same diocese, between different dioceses, within the same Episcopal Conference and between the different Episcopal Conferences in Africa.

We believe that while speaking of justice and peace, it is urgent to accomplish the constitution of funds of solidarity at the diocesan, national, regional and continental levels. These funds for solidarity could help us on the African level to intervene within our means without waiting for everything from the West.

The diocesan, national, regional and continental Caritas could be the appropriate instruments for the creation of these funds.

We estimate that the stake needed to make this pastoral solidarity effective in the Churches of Africa is both an ethical and theological necessity. It has a Christological foundation and is rooted at the heart of faith. Therefore it is not a simple social or political position.

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H. Exc. Mons. Antonio Maria VEGLIÒ, Titular Archbishop of Eclano, President of the Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (VATICAN CITY)

The reality of the pastoral of human mobility is such an important, widespread and complex problem, especially within and from Africa that has always been and continues to be a continent where this problem is present, especially as regards the fluxes of migrants, refugees and displaced persons. Over the last three decades a variety of circumstances have fed this phenomenon. Apart from increasing urbanization, wars and conflicts of various types have transformed different countries into “exporters” of refugees and emigrants to neighboring countries, other areas of the continent or foreign countries. Then there are economic, social, cultural and political factors, all interlinked, that force some Africans to abandon their country of origin.

Migratory movements in Africa are, though, more “horizontal” than “vertical”. In effect, intra-continental migration is much more significant than that towards the rest of the world, to the extent that it is estimated that internal migration currently involves at least 40 million people, Africans for the most part. And all the indications are that these internal and inter-regional fluxes will continue to increase in coming years and decades.The economic crisis and the conflicts that scar many countries on the continent of Africa have led to worrying xenophobic feelings towards immigrants, who are transformed into scapegoats for internal political and economic problems. Often, as a result, the immigration policies of states have become more rigid thus making a permanent stay or the development of business by immigrants more difficult.

In this context, the respect for human rights, democratic principles and principles of legality, good governance, the deepening of political dialogue and the strengthening of international cooperation, are the guidelines that will direct the present and future of Africa.

The pastoral dimension in this context is not of secondary importance. Only an authentic relationship of justice, in fact, will lead to peace, and, from this, the Church in Africa will be able to draw strength in the service of reconciliation and the proclamation of the Gospel.

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H. Exc. Mons. Luigi BRESSAN, Archbishop of Trento, President of the Episcopal Commision for the Evangelization of Peoples and Cooperation between the Churches of the Italian Episcopal Conference (ITALY)

A sense of fraternal exchange and thanksgiving for the testimony seen on a Christological and therefore committed faith.

Information regarding 3,601 Italian missionaries in Africa, available for local pastoral projects. Questions about the presence of many African priests in Italy.
Support for the Pontifical Missionary Works and the CEI (Italian Bishops Conference) fund for development; coordination through the Episcopal Conferences.

Gifts that we expect: to get stronger in faith.

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H. Em. Card. John NJUE, Archbishop of Nairobi, President of the Episcopal Conference (KENYA)

Africa continues to thirst for Good Governance. Many countries in Africa continue to struggle under bad governance where unchecked hunger for power has led to impunity, corruption, manipulation of people and other similar social political evils bled from human hearts in need of conversion. The church in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa has continued to struggle to bring on board systems of governance that address justice through service to the common good. Pastoral letters have continually addressed bad governance which by and large can be termed the cancer of Africa. This is what has impoverished the people across the continent.

Many people are downtrodden and need to urgently experience the assurance of Christ … «the spirit of the lord is upon me … he has sent me to bring the good news to the poor … to set the down trodden free» Lk 4:17-21.

These downtrodden people must be invited to participate in the construction of just systems of governance through making good constitutions. The constitution in Kenya and those elsewhere in Africa require overhaul if they have to address bad governance, human rights, reconciliation and peace process that can only be brought about by just systems.

What is clear in Kenya and the larger Africa is that some leaders would rather stick to constitutions that give them unchecked power leading to anarchy and dictatorship. The post- election violence in Kenya in 2008 is a good example of impunity. The National Accord that was reached giving birth to the Grand Coalition Government was a great relief to Kenyans whose brethren had died in masses and others becoming refugees in their own country. Despite this the reforms proposed as the permanent solution to the socio-political problems , are yet to be implemented . The trial of perpetrators of the post election violence is yet to begin.

The church in Kenya continues to stress the urgency of reforms through good systems of justice. The Catholic Church continues to intensify Civic Education to empower citizens on their rights and duties. This empowerment is a need all over Africa depending on the issues in a given country. Consequently it is urgent:

To have a formation programme for people in government. To form good and holy politicians as agents of good governance. To provide chaplaincies for politicians. To strengthen Catholic Media to enhance moral formation for all. To enhance the prophetic role of the church everywhere. To aggressively attend to the ongoing formation of all agents of evangelisation including politicians based on sound Catechism and the Social Teachings of the Church.

This Synod gives us a special opportunity to reflect on the cancer that is eating up our Continent and a cure must be found. Good Governance is not only a priority but a must. I can as well add that politics in Africa is so important that we cannot leave it to politicians alone at the risks we have already experienced. The time to act constructively is now!.

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H. Exc. Mons. Gianfranco RAVASI, Titular Archbishop of Villamagna di Proconsolare, President of the Pontifical Council of Culture (VATICAN CITY)

Mine is the voice of a European who, with admiration and respect, turns to his African brother bishops to propose a very simple and general intervention on a theme that runs through many pages of the Instrumentum laboris and the interventions we have already heard in the hall. Even though black is the traditional symbol
of the continent, Africa, in reality, presents itself as multicultural and multireligious colorful rainbow. To give just one example, UNESCO has recorded at least 250 different dialects in Cameroon, while the Bantu languages are so ideologically sophisticated as to use 24 grammatical classifications for the different qualities of the various realities.

Faced by such an array of cultural and spiritual treasures made up of popular and family traditions, of symbols and religious rites, knowledge, memory and folklore, I would like to put forward only three essential observations.

The first contains the hope that the Synod stimulates Africa in many ways to guard its cultural and spiritual identity, thus preventing it from breaking up under the wind of secularization and globalization that is blowing powerfully on the 53 African nations. Africa, however, also has to breathe the positive values of modern universal communion and, as a result, know how to oppose nationalism, ethnic integralism, tribal differences, and religious fundamentalism.

The second consideration proposes instead that the Synod should also turn to the West and North of the world in order to establish that dialogue that Mons. Monsegwo Pasinya called, so evocatively in his report, the partnership not only of raw materials, but also of gray materials, that is of values, creating space for understanding and communion and not for colonization or, on the contrary, reciprocal rejection. This is what happened in the first centuries of Christianity with the inestimable gift given to the Church and western culture by Antony, Pachomius, Tertullianus, Cyprianus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius and the great Augustine.

The third reflection would like to re-propose a more profound methodological and thematic look at the delicate but still vital question of the inculturation of the Christian message. Inculturation — as John Paul II suggested to the bishops in Kenya in 1980 — “will truly be a reflection of the Incarnation of the Word, when a culture, transformed and regenerated by the Gospel, brings forth from its own living tradition original expressions of Christian life, celebration and thought”. Following this line, a significant function could be carried out by the network of Catholic cultural centers that are spread throughout Africa and exist in various forms, sometimes at an academic-university level, other times at a more popular and parochial level.

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H. Exc. Mons. Joseph Edra UKPO, Archbishop of Calabar (NIGERIA)

Sustainable reconciliation prevents the use of the past as the seed of renewed conflict. It consolidates peace, breaks the cycle of violence and strengthens newly established or reintroduced democratic institutions. As a backward-looking operation, reconciliation brings about the personal healing of survivors, the reparation of past injustices, the building or rebuilding of non-violent relationships between individuals and communities, and the acceptance by the parties to a conflict of a common vision and understanding of the past. In practice such all-encompassing reconciliation is not easy to realize. The experience of a brutal past makes the search for peaceful coexistence a delicate and intricate operation.

The Church in Africa must continue to engage other religions in dialogue, involve the media, schools and civil society;

Actively participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Those set up by Governments only cool off tempers but do not bring about sustainable reconciliation. We should deepen T&R to heal wounds both spiritually and improve community lite.

Seminars on The Church’s Social Teachings should be organized for Town Hall meetings, in the schools and for politicians irrespective of their parties.

By healing memories and using them to provide early warning signals, teaching future generations how to identify the first signs of renewed and potentially dangerous distrust. By providing education for conflict resolution and transformation, peace and reconciliation-related education and training program.

By Intensifying Prison Apostolate and resettlement far ex-prisoners. By facilitating opportunities by which communities emerging from conflict can share their experiences and learn from others who have tackled similar issues. By encouraging and supporting education ministries to analyze and examine how education systems need to change and expand in order to promote sustainable peace.

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H. Exc. Mons. Gervais BANSHIMIYUBUSA, Bishop of Ngozi (BURUNDI)

After a civil war lasting fifteen years which has destroyed society in Burundi (1993-2008), we would like to thank you for your spiritual, moral and material closeness, by telling you that the war in the country has ended, without winners or losers, but through dialogue and negotiations between the factions. The country today is working on a process of peace and reconciliation. But continue to pray for this precarious peace.

As this II Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops speaks about justice, peace and reconciliation, it seems useful to us to share an aspect of the role of our Church in the process of social and political peace taking place in our country today.

Going beyond (without ignoring their importance) the many initiatives of mediation, teaching and social actions performed by the Church of Burundi to make this country reach today’s phase in the process of peace, I would like to focus in this intervention on the decision taken by the Church in Burundi in placing herself in synod to give a specific contribution to the process of peace and reconciliation of the people.

Since 2004, in this situation of a society that has lost all its cultural and moral bearings, given over to collective offenses and sins on a wide scale, we decided to involve ourselves in the diocesan synods with this theme: “let us convert to promote a culture of peace and reconciliation”.

I would like to end with a dual plea to this Synodal Assembly for Africa:

1. That we register in our resolutions the celebration of diocesan synods that continue the theme of the present Assembly, that is: “our local Churches at the service of the edification of a culture of peace and reconciliation”; because the task of edification of a culture of peace and reconciliation not being a task that can be undertaken by Christians individually, draws in the involvement of the whole ecclesial family and even beyond so that the light may be visible.

2. That the Churches from well-to-do countries, in the framework of our Church that is the same Family of God everywhere, help us with their resources in creating in Africa institutes and universities with faculties having traits of prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as faculties for peace and reconciliation.

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H. Exc. Mons. Menghisteab TESFAMARIAM, M.C.C.J., Eparch of Asmara (ERITREA)

The woes and tribulations afflicting most of the African Continent, namely, the ongoing conflicts, injustices, human rights violations, lack of religious freedom, persecutions, exploitation of human and natural resources, different kind of diseases, poverty, unemployment, displacement, brain drain and human trafficking, are sufficiently know and publicized. These, and I speak from experience, are caused by internal and external forces of hunger for power and an unrestrained greed for possessions.

The family as the first and smallest nucleus of any society and Christian community is the first and indispensable school of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. For it is in the family that one learns the sense of belonging and identity, and the values of solidarity, sharing, respect for others, hospitality, togetherness, etc.

It is true that the largest number of refugees and displaced people is found in Africa. It is also true that many Africans are stili trying to cross deserts and seas in order to reach lands where they think they will get better education, more money, and especially greater free
dom. There is great need of pastoral care for these vulnerable groups of people. Our Synod must urge that the Churches of origin and the Churches who host them need to have much closer collaboration.

However, emigration of Africans has not started recently. There are now many Africans who have successfully established themselves in the developed world. If motivated by us, they are ready to make their contribution towards the improvement of life in their countries of origin. We must not exclude them from being involved in developing Africa’s potentials. In close collaboration with our sister Churches in Europe, America and Australia we have to bring them aboard in the efforts to move Africa forward, both humanly and spiritually.

If the African Family and the Africans in Diaspora are going to help the Church become «salt of the earth and Light of the world», then we have to make sure that a very effective basic and on-going formation is given to ali our Pastoral agents. Especially in this Year of the Priesthood it is vital that ali the members of the presbyteriate be fully aware of their call to become holy ministers of reconciliation, credible advocates of justice and faithful bearers of Christ’s peace.

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H. Exc. Mons. Martin Igwemezie UZOUKWU, Bishop of Minna (NIGERIA)

We live and work among Muslims in a «sharia» state called Niger State located in the middle belt of Nigeria.
In our diocese, we have a program known as Family apostles of the Divine Mercy Devotion which focuses on the smallest unit of this family of God, the «domestic church».

These family apostles of Divine Mercy men and women are trained as village church leaders, agents of evangelization, reconciliation, promoters of justice and peace in their village communities. Daily they share the word of God in their homes, the scriptural rosary and the divine mercy chaplet, they also lead at community prayers.

The «Zumunta Mata» a Catholic Women’s Group whose motto is «We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world» are also agents of evangelization, reconciliation, promoters of justice, peace and mercy.

They and their children interact with the Muslim women and their children at the grassroots level, through this family apostolate and encourage them to spend ONE hour daily in prayer during which they read the KORAN, discover the mercy of God and pray with their beads, a dialogue with Islam and the witness of life through Prayer. In fact, some Muslim families have learnt to add a new version of the divine mercy prayer to their daily prayers.

The above mentioned catechesis and prayer help our youth today to develop interest and love for the Scriptural Rosary, the Eucharistic Adoration/ Benediction in our Parish Chapels.

An Appeal to the Synod Fathers: Please encourage your priests, Religious and laity to promote the Divine Mercy Devotion, and to love the Eucharistic Adoration in their parishes and Formation Centers.

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H. Exc. Mons. Timothée MODIBO-NZOCKENA, Bishop of Franceville, President of the Episcopal Conference, President of the Association to the Episcopal Conference of Central Africa (A.C.E.R.A.C.) (GABON)

Our region of Central Africa continues to be the theater of injustices, division and untenable violence. This makes our present life difficult and mortgages the future of our countries. Poverty grasps most of the populations. Social evils take on an alarming breadth.

The killings, rapes, thievery, all types of violence are trivialized here. The consequences of this violence deeply permeates individuals and society, hearts being more often inhabited by sin than turned to conversion, justice that creates life is derided, the truth that only can free is in a bad way. To get out of this situation, the reactions and cultures of justice and truth must be built.

Biblical experience proposes some paths for reconciliation. Reconciliation transforms relations with God, with others and with the environment. True reconciliation comes from the heart. Only a person reconciled with God and with themself can in turn reconcile. This reconciliation is accomplished with Jesus Christ, who, through His death and resurrection, reconciled men with God and with men themselves.

To reconcile all men in one family, the family of God, is and remains the first mission of the Church. It is not just for some. It is a duty for us all: Bishops, Priests, laity and all the ecclesial institutions. Christians should not be afraid of testifying their faith. This commitment presupposes concrete acts of reconciliation. To be at the service of reconciliation, the Church must truly be a reconciled family.

The Synod must inspire a dynamic of reconciliation in all of the peoples of God. To do this, it should:

1. To have within each Diocese, an authority for the regular following of the putting in place of the Synod’s resolutions;

2. To elaborate a catechesis and a biblical pastoral that favors teaching reconciliation;

3. To relearn our sense of respect towards our African traditions and in the Bible;

4. To promote a culture of common good and disinterested service in the Church and in society.

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H. Exc. Mons. Augustine Obiora AKUBEZE, Bishop of Uromi (NIGERIA)

In the past, our forefathers believed in the existence of witches and the havoc they wreaked on mankind and society. Almost everyone in Nigeria knows about or at least has heard of witches and how they are said to affect people’s lives.

Witches are said to possess super human powers that they use to perpetrate evil. According to a certain belief a witch could harm anybody including her family members. This especially makes her highly hated. They are said to kill their own children, drink human blood and bring ruin and ill health on their friends and families. That is to say, in contrast to normal human beings witches conceive and cause the most horrible misfortune on their families and communities.

Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated, and ostracized from the community. Sometimes, they are taken to the forest and slaughtered or disgraced publicly and murdered.

Sometimes suspected witches are bathed in acid or poisoned to death. There have also been instances where they were poisoned or buried alive. Some Churches do not help matters as there have been cases of Pentecostal who chained and tortured suspected witches in order to extract confession.

Unfortunately, in families and schools, and even in churches and mosques, in the media and films, Africans are made to believe that witches are real and that witchcraft is effective. Yet belief in witchcraft lacks any justification in reason, science and common sense. So one wonders why this primitive superstition still makes sense to a lot of Africans in this 21st century. That is why we feel it necessary to present it to this synodal body for specific statements to guide our flock.

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H. Exc. Mons. Jaime Pedro GONÇALVES, Archbishop of Beira (MOZAMBIQUE)

We present the case of the involvement of the Church in reconciliation of the peoples of Southern Africa, beginning in1988 when Pope John Paul II, of happy memory, visited the region. The effort of the Church and other Churches and religions, combined with the efforts of political leaders who brought about reconciliation, bore abundant fruits. Violence ended and peace returned for the people of the region. We present also the case of the Mozambique, where the Church mediated discussions for reconciliation to bring to an end a 16-year-old civil war. Thus a happy peace settlement was reached and the country now is at peace.

Don Jaime ends up by saying that this and other initiatives of this kind should be studied and promoted.. Without hope there is no peaceful future for Africa’s society. It was felt that the Church should form reconcilers and peacemakers for the resolution of conflicts. Young people must be part of the reconciliation practices.

He insisted that these initiatives should
be intensified and consolidated because the world of African politics is going backwards, returning to violence, re-establishing dictatorships and political persecution.
Finally we foresee a jubilee of reconciliation for the whole African continent as the fruit of the commitment of all to reconciliation

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H. Exc. Mons. Théophile KABOY RUBONEKA, Bishop Coadjutor of Goma (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

Conflicts and wars led, especially in DR Congo, to victimization and making women objects. Thousands of women have suffered, at the hands of all armed groups, massive sexual violence, as a weapon of war, in flagrant violation of the international juridical dispositions.

Taking our experience today in DR Congo, to give some comfort to women and children for the consequences and traumas they were submitted to, we propose:

1. To fight against sexual violence by going back to their ultimate cause which is the crisis of governance manifested by the wars, pillage and anarchical exploitation of natural resources, circulation of weapons, the maintenance of militias, the absence of a strong and republican army, etc.

2. The creation of homes for women and young girls as centers for listening and accompanying these violated and traumatized women.

3. The direct involvement of women in the “Justice and Peace” Commissions: so that women may promote peace and fight against the degrading ideas about them held by the new world ethic and certain cultural traditions.

4. The formation for Catechesis and concrete literacy of women to allow women to play their role properly. It is articulated in three modules, namely: dignity and vocation of woman, woman as the artisan of peace and woman as the actress of social change.

5. Creating structures fro the promotion of women. This could consist in organizations of women working on various activities at the parish and diocesan levels; centers of formation for women for peace.

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H. Exc. Mons. Evariste NGOYAGOYE, Archbishop of Bujumbura, President of the Episcopal Conference (BURUNDI)

In the three countries in the Great Lakes area, the Episcopal Conferences have worked to bring young people in conflict closer together. The youth have been used and instrumentalized during the conflicts that have made enemies of their countries. Because of this, the unique and exclusive identity of those that were different was exacerbated. They were considered as enemies since they have nothing in common with “us”.

They do not share the same humanity, therefore they must be eliminated. Everything that makes up a plural identity (religious, ethnic, citizenship, social, etc.) was eclipsed, to the benefit of the unique and exclusive identity. Many studies, in the Great Lakes, in the Balkans and other places, have shown how manipulating this identity can be fatal. The ideology built upon this logic ends up in a social, collective, structural sin. The youth that is born, raised and educated in this ideology has a warped moral conscience and cultural perception. I hope this Assembly will lean on the wrongdoings of this sin of social dimensions.
<br>The Episcopal Conferences of the Great Lakes have fought against this mentality by deciding to:

1. Bring young persons closer to each other

2. Make the social doctrine of the Church more accessible and more widespread.

To bring the young persons closer together, small steps had to be taken, through the lay movements (Catholic Action and movements of new communities): first among young persons from different districts and hills, then between different parishes, then organizing diocesan forums.

During these meetings, the content of the Church’s social doctrine was the main theme: peace, justice, reconciliation were developed under the form of catechesis and fostered prayer and exchange. In the meanwhile, the Regional Episcopal Commission Justice and Peace elaborated the modules for making this doctrine more accessible.

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H. Exc. Mons. Marcel Honorat Léon AGBOTON, Archbishop of Cotonou, Vice President of the Episcopal Conference (BENIN)

The Church in Africa must continue to proclaim the Good News of reconciliation and always propose to achieve this through the sacraments, especially that of penance. This reconciliation through the sacrament of reconciliation is indispensable: it is the first and it is from this that all other gestures and acts of reconciliation come for the Christian.

Therefore, I hope that this Synod will restate some strong words to put this back in first place, in the mission of reconciliation of the Church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And this,

— first on our level, to we priests and bishops, ordained ministers. This means giving back to the exercise of our ministry of reconciliation for the sacrament, a more important place in the pastoral program of all priests as a sort of basic requirement of his daily ministry: hours of listening and confession, in the individual as well as the community celebration of it. That this insistence be inscribed in the conscience of all future priests during their formation as well as the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of a priest.

— Then at the level of all of the Christian people. In fact, lived fully, the ministers of reconciliation make of those who follow Jesus Christ, “true doers” and actors of peace. The righteous man, justified in Christ by the ministry of the Church is then an effective actor for a righteous and reconciled world. And if the lay faithful are better actors of reconciliation and peace, it is in the world where they find their vocation and mission.

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H. Exc. Mons. Jean-Claude MAKAYA LOEMBA, Bishop of Pointe-Noire (REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

In the realization of the mission we often find ourselves listening to people who have a very different of justice from ours. In fact, in the social crises that our societies are going through each player acts in the conviction that justice is on their side. They are even able to find arguments, partisans and sponsors to support their action. This reality becomes more complex in our countries when concerning political and/or economic leaders.

Even more, very often behind each political and/or economic leader in our African societies, there is a variety of deciders or intimidators (families, clans, ethnic groups, gurus, foreign politicians, government or non-government organizations, to mention just a few). They are often not known in the light of day. Therefore, our prophetic word as Pastors does not reach its goal because it only addresses the visible face of the mountain, that is to say the political and/or economic leaders of our countries. How can our prophetic word and actions reach those that pull the strings in the shadows and feign ignorance to what is being plotted?

Before all the situations such as the multiplication of armed militias, child soldiers, all the misery that drives children to relying on their own resources, the companies that exploit the numerous riches of the African substratum, the religious novelties, before all this denunciation is no longer enough. We must go further by opening up new perspectives, paths of hope. As pastors we should not take the place of the economists or politicians, but rather help each Christian no matter his status to lead a deep and authentic Christian life that works in the hearts, families and society for the paths of reconciliation, justice and peace.

* * *

H. Exc. Mons. George BIGUZZI, S.X., Bishop of Makeni, President of the Episcopal Conference (SIERRA LEONE)

I wish to appeal to the Synod Fathers to make an unequivocal call for the total, universal abolition of the death penalty.

Furthermore the brutal treatment of war prisoners, the victimization of civilians during conflicts and the recruitment of child soldiers are crimes against humanity, clearly listed even in the Geneva Convention and in the attached Protocols. The road to peace and reconciliation goes through
the acknowledgment, rejection and reparation for such crimes. War is no justification for crimes against humanity. The prophetic voice of the Church is needed in spite of the fact that there are not many listeners.

The Church in Africa has made giant strides towards self-reliance, but in many areas we still need the support of other churches. I am sure I can speak on behalf of the other bishops in expressing our sincere gratitude for the immense help received from the Church in Europe, North America and other parts of the world. The church in most parts of South Sahara Africa owes its first evangelization and growth to the missionary effort of the Church in the Western World.

Often the Church in the Western World channels its help through their own Church structures for development and overseas cooperation. The names of such structures differ from country to country, but they are national Catholic offices. To our surprise often enough, the directors or representatives of such offices, support or start projects parallel to, or even outside of our pastoral plans, without consultation with the local Bishop or the National Bishops Conference. Sometimes decisions are made as to what projects to finance, where to execute them and which implementing agency to choose without consultation with us. Such system humiliates the local church, it’s waste of resources, does not guarantee continuity and ignores the potential evangelization effect of the Church’s work in society.

The humble appeal to our brother bishops from the Western countries is for the issuing of clear directives to the personnel running their development offices to work in consultation with us and from within the pastoral plans and priorities of the African Bishops.

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H. Exc. Mons. Egidio NKAIJANABWO, Bishop of Kasese (UGANDA)

It has been mentioned many times in our discussions that we, religious leaders, should face our governments and protest against their bad governance. We have done it many times but we do not seem to be getting much success. When we protest, they sometimes criticize that we are interfering in politics and that we should confine ourselves to religious matters only. They think that we are supporting one or other of the political parties on the opposition. We should make it clear to them that religious matters include defending the rights of the people.

Mother Church, in her wisdom, has given us one way of showing that we are not talking politics when we criticize bad governance. In the Code Canon Law the Church forbids clerics to engage in partisan politics and to take up political posts. This would compromise our independence and freedom (Canons 285 and 287). The government and its organs will then see that you are talking as a man of God, defending the rights of God’s people.

We are sent, like Jeremiah the prophet was, to speak out against malpractice. God said to Jeremiah: «Go to the people I send you to and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you» (Jer 1:7-8).

Another way we could bring about a change is, as it has been said, to instruct our Christians more deeply in their faith and in the Social Teaching of the Church, so that they follow the teaching of the Gospel.
When they have become convinced Christians and they have also known their human rights, we then mobilize them at all levels; we target especially the Councillors (political representatives) on the local level and Members of Parliament on the national level so that together we try to eliminate corruption from our countries.

This should not be impossible, especially in a country which has a big Christian population. After all, many of the corrupt officials are our Christians.

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