VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The meeting of bishops on Africa taking place this month is a help to counteract the negative image many have of the continent, says a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, said this in the most recent edition of the Vatican Television program Octava Dies, during which he evaluated the first week of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
In particular, Father Lombardi quotes the statements of the synod’s relator-general, Cardinal Peter Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, who said: “[f]or too long Africa has been accused by the media of everything that humanity abhors. The time has come to change pace and to tell the truth about Africa with love, promoting the continent’s development, which will bring the well-being of the whole world.”
“It is hoped,” Father Lombardi said, “that the pursuit of reconciliation, justice and peace, which is eminently Christian by the fact that it is rooted in love and mercy, will re-establish the unity of the Church — family of God in the continent. And that the latter, as salt of the earth and light of the world, will cure man’s wounded heart, in which nests the cause of everything that de-stabilizes the African continent.
“In this way, the continent and its islands will understand the opportunities and the gifts that God has given them.”
According to the Vatican spokesman, the assembly is “truly African and universal at the same time” and it “will offer a formidable contribution to reaffirm and present to the universal Church and to the world Africa’s dignity, too often forgotten — its human, cultural, spiritual, religious and Christian dignity.”
Father Lombardi mentioned in particular the intervention in the Synod of Patriarch Abuna Paulus of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who noted that his country “was the second nation to believe in Christ, since Apostolic times.”
“Christ’s message is not a colonial legacy,” explained Father Lombardi. “From the beginning it was integrated in African cultures and is able to descend to their heart, to heal it and bring fruitfulness of life for the whole human family.”
“With respect and love,” the spokesman concluded, “we must learn to tell the whole truth about Africa.”