By Luca Marcolivio
YAOUNDE, Cameroon, SEPT. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A real and proper “epiphany of the Church in Africa,” is how Cardinal Stanislaw Ryłko , president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, described the success of the Pan-African Congress of the Laity, held in Yaounde, Cameroon last Tuesday.
“We discovered its numerous spiritual resources, its great religious and human vitality and the vigorous missionary dynamism of its laity,” said the cardinal in the closing address of the continental congress, organized by the dicastery he heads.
Moreover, Cardinal Ryłko stressed the fact that the formation of mature laity is not a privilege but rather a right and a duty in the Church. The cardinal also stressed that it is a matter of extreme urgency, and that the Church in Africa can rely on its many charisms and gifts of the Holy Spirit to give hope to those in need. He said one example, in particular, are the ecclesial movements, which he described as a “source of great missionary dynamism, and to the parishes, real schools of Christian life.”
“Africa is in extreme need of this kind of laity. To be witnesses of Christ at the heart of the world is not an easy task, as much courage is required to go against the current, given the prevailing cultural tendencies and, if one is to be in consonance with the Lord’s example, as a sign of contradiction,” he added.
The Polish prelate also exhorted the Catholic laity to defend the dignity of human life reminding that such inalienable rights cannot be changed by any individual, group, authority or State because it is a supreme right that comes from God.
Entrusted to the African Catholic laity, Cardinal Ryłko said, is the task to “build the Kingdom of God in the world in which it lives, that is, in the family, in work, in the economy, in public life, in politics and in culture.”
The risks, he continued, are represented particularly by the phenomenon of “depreciation of politics,” which the cardinal described as a consequence “of incompetence, arrogance and widespread corruption,” which make the political class lose its credibility.
“However, despite its limitations and weaknesses, politics continues to be an important component of civic life in the democratic system. Hence, criticism and denunciation of evils and abuses is not enough. Imposed on today’s laity is the urgent task to discover the right and duty of active and responsible participation,” Cardinal Ryłko said.
After encouraging “all Christians of Africa who suffer because of religious intolerance, hatred and violence,” the cardinal concluded the Pan-African Congress with the following words: “To all those who suffer we wish to say: you are not alone and abandoned! Christ is with you! The Church is with you!”