VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is emphasizing the need for reconciliation among the people of that continent.
The council, which met Tuesday and Wednesday in the Vatican, affirmed that "reconciliation continues to be a challenge for the Church in Africa."
In a press release publicized Saturday, the council stated that the Church in Africa must be "reconciled within itself to be a credible witness in its preaching and social action."
At the opening of the council's meeting, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, offered reflections on some themes relevant to the life of the Church in Africa, from peace and justice to the protection of creation and the issue of the desertification of cultivatable land.
Over the course of the gatherings it was emphasized that theology must not be transformed into politics in the African countries, "but rather theology should be brought to bear in concrete pastoral ministry."
In regard to interreligious dialogue, the meeting participants "affirmed that there is an effort to establish bonds of understanding and cooperation, above all with Islam, which is the most widespread religion on the continent."
The council expressed the hope that "the fundamentalist groups would be more and more excluded and marginalized by the official representatives of Islam."
The council devoted some time to study the propositions of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which took place Oct. 4 to Oct. 25, in view of a "plausible outline" that could serve as the basis for the Holy Father's post-synodal apostolic exhortation.
The council affirmed that the "final text must maintain a proper balance between a theological-spiritual perspective and an adaptation to the pastoral and social reality [in Africa]."
The next meeting of the council will take place April 27-28.