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ETHIOPIA: Vatican Official Urges AMECEA Bishops to Embrace Integral Human Development

Develop Must be for Whole Person, not Just Material Gain

By Sr. Grace Candiru, MSMMC, AMECEA News Blog

A Vatican official has called for an authentic development that takes into consideration the integral development of the human person which is aimed at promoting the whole person and not just their material development.

This is opposed to the worldview of the development model that focuses on identifying economic process/progress that uses and abuses natural resources, resulting in mass consumption.

Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffe who is the Secretary for Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development said this while addressing Bishops of Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa, (AMECEA) during their 19th AMECEA Plenary Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Quoting Pope Francis, Msgr. Duffe affirmed that “A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.” Thus, simply put, the French priest described integral development as the care and consideration of the future of our common good.

His Dicastery, which Pope Francis created in August 2016 after merging four former Pontifical Councils namely Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant people, Charitable Action of the Pope and Health Care Workers, is headed by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson.

He explained that the Dicastery in its mission bases itself on the four principles of the Catholic Social Teaching (CST), namely the Dignity of the human person, Subsidiary, Solidarity and the Common good.

“Our mission operates within the four principles of (CST) and in that context, we try to encourage and support all the possibilities in education and social assistance; the proposition of the Christian faith to everybody to develop their capacities for the common good,” he said.

This according to him, requires that they propose and dialogue with everybody – bishops, religious communities, parishes, dioceses and other partners like Caritas, Catholic Relief Services, etc, that are associated to this project of Integral Human Development. “We receive capacity from God and we have to develop this capacity,” he went on.

In order to bring the message of integral human development to the local churches, Msgr. Duffe said they often use the opportunity of Bishops’ Ad Limina visits to Rome to listen to bishops. “We try to listen to the bishops and respond to their needs and we also propose to them some activities,” he said.

He noted that the Dicastery had recently shared a text with the bishops about ethics in the economy.  This according to him was important for the bishops because many of them need financial leaders – people who can take charge of the financial resources of their dioceses. He said the text focuses on which projects we can invest our money. It also talks about money, mission and the Church and how the Dicastery can support the bishops in their mission.

Another opportunity for the Dicastery of (IHD) officials to meet was through such forums as bishops’ conferences as the current Plenary Assembly. “I am here because we try to visit all the bishop conferences in the world to explain the project of the Dicastery. This gives us the opportunity to explain the challenges of ecology, economy, solidarity, and peace with reference to Laudato Si,” he said.

But most importantly too, they also try to promote the notion of social impact investment and ecological impact investment all over the world. “All in all, the mission of the Dicastery is to meet, to receive, propose, to support and encourage all the propositions related to the pastoral and ecological development of the local churches in the world,” said the Secretary IDH.

Proposal to the Church in the AMECEA Region

Msgr. Duffe who was at the Assembly on behalf of Cardinal Tuckson said his reflection to the Assembly focussed on the history of the concept of development. The focus of the reflection was to explain the critical approach to economic development with emphasis on the new meaning of integral human development that takes into consideration all the dimensions of the human person. This reflection which he said was in line with Pope Francis’ vision was important to help us think together about the cry of creation, the planet and the cry of the poor.

Secondly, he said their idea was to propose cooperation between AMECEA and other countries in Africa and all the Dicasteries in Rome. He said it was particularly interesting to see the bishops bringing up the question about families and the youth. He noted that many families in Eastern Africa were faced with poverty, unemployment, and violence. “In light of these concerns, we, therefore, have to think about the situation of the family, the social and political situation, as well as the economic situation and the future of the young people.

He said another issue that came up after his presentation was how we can invest in social approach and at the same time invest in evangelization. And this is what he had to say: “I think we cannot separate social consideration and evangelization. Rather we have to create a link between the proposition of gospel values and the question of poverty, equality, human rights, and solidarity.”

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