'Pastors Must Remain Free From Every Worldly, Political Concern'

To African Episcopal Conference, Pope Francis Also Stresses Sustaining Families, Investing in Education

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In order to properly serve the Church in Africa, Pope Francis says pastors must “remain free from every worldly and political concern.”

Addressing participants of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) Saturday afternoon in the Vatican, the Pope stressed the Church’s commitment to give common answers to the continent’s new challenges and reiterated that this requires selfless giving on behalf of the nation’s priests.

In his remarks, the Pope called for a personal, intimate Church.

“Experience teaches,” the 78-year-old Pontiff said, “that large bureaucratic structures analyze the problems abstractly and run the risk of having the Church far from the people.”

“Because of this, he added, “concreteness is important,» concreteness which touches reality.

As a result, he said the Church must maintain simple ecclesial experiences and have simple pastoral structures within the reach of all.

Younger Generations

“Young generations have the need of your witness,” he said. “Young people look to us.”

“The future, in Africa, is in the hands of the young,” the Pope said. “Today, they are called to defend themselves from new and unscrupulous forms of ‘colonization,’” such as success, wealth, power at all costs, as well as fundamentalism, the distorted use of religion, and new ideologies.

To invest in education, the Jesuit Pope noted, is the most effective way to overcome the temptation to yield to these very dangerous lifestyles.

The Pontiff also urged the bishops to not only oppose the widespread mentality of abuse and of violence, but also divisions on social, ethnic and religious bases.

Family

For a variety of reasons, the Pope added, there is a ‘certain disintegration’ of the family in Africa.

“Therefore, the Church is called to appreciate and to boost all initiatives in favor of the family.”

He went on to laud the many priests, religious and laity who have undertaken commendable endeavors to sustain the family, giving special attention to the elderly, the sick and those bearing handicaps. Francis also praised the ‘wonderful testimony of charity’ they rendered in face of the Ebola virus, and thanked them for proclaiming the Gospel and contributing to their population’s social progress.

Pope Francis also prayed that “the wounds of corruption and fatalism may heal and foster the commitment of Christians in secular realities, in view of the common good,” and imparted his Apostolic Blessing.

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-episcopal-conferences-of-africa-and-madagascar-secam

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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