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Rev. Sister Bernadette GUISSOU, S.I.C.O., Superior General of the Hearth of the Inmaculate Conception, Ouagadougou (BURKINA FASO)
The Church-Family of God enters the category of the most expressive and most beneficial images for the entire Church. God founded the family for it to be the place where the human being, from his conception to his exit from this world, finds an appropriate framework for the natural blossoming and his orientation towards the eternal realities.
Despite the dignity that God gave it, the family is threatened by counter-values: marital love is too often profaned by egoism, hedonism and the illicit practices hindering generation (GS 47). Thus, for example, the following are placed on an even footing of equality, traditional families, recreated families, families constituted by parents of the same sex (cf. Marguerite Peeters, The New World Ethic: Challenge for the Church). The objective of the fall of the family counts some successes. Its promoters have reached their ends: the ideological concepts substituted those that respected the natural course of things; by different means, a world ethic moved by these new concepts unfortunately holds the place of morals and imposes itself more and more like a world normative authority.
Facing danger, the return to the natural values of the family, self-understanding of Christians as Family of God and the commitment to taking on this image of the Church, constitute a rampart to stop the work of deconstruction and destruction. The family is the first cell of society and of the Church.
Anything that touches upon it also affects society and the Church at the same time. On all levels of the Church of Christ, home of the Family of God, it is urgent to analyze and explain to the faithful the subversive causes of deconstruction, and that in the magisterial and catechetical teachings just as in preaching, the faithful must be formed to a family life rooted in the evangelical values. At the same time, the placement of effective Christian base communities, true locations of life and the concrete expression of the Church-Family of God would help heal the wounds of the families to make them authentic domestic churches according to God’s plan.
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Mrs. Marguerite BARANKITSE, Founder of Maison Shalom, Ruyigi (BURUNDI)
Exactly 16 years ago, Burundi once again fell into a civil war that lasted 12 years.
My testimony that I give to you wishes to underline how those who call themselves Christians can renege on their baptism to defend their ethnic appurtenance.
It was on October 24th 1993, we had found refuge in the bishopric of Ruvigi, when the assassins came; since they were of my same ethnic group I was the first one that went out to stop them. The first assassin answered me that he was first of all a Tutsi and that he had come to avenge his blood brothers and sisters. I answered him that “I did not chose being a Tutsi, but I chose my baptism.”
Despite being Christians, they were not ashamed of killing in front of me. Today, without asking for forgiveness to the orphans they left behind, nor to the bishop (because they burnt down his bishopric), they continue to come to Mass without any shame on their faces.
We have learnt to be quiet. The pastors are silent, the flock is silent and we continue our Sunday celebrations as rites but not as fraternal communion.
Thus in the regions with a majority of Christians, this is where we find many street children, child soldiers, “sorcery” children, etc… Let us not leave them in the hands of the NGO alone!
Yes, dear pastors, dear religious, the children only have us as family and they call you “papa”, “mama”. Have the courage to open the doors of your bishoprics, convents, houses, to give them an identity, to give them family affection.
Let us imitate the bishop in “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo who opened his cathedral in the dead of night to give lodging to the poor. Yes, let us be courageous and make our Africa a place where it is good “to live”.
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Rev. F. Speratus KAMANZI, A.J., Superior General of the Apostles of Jesus, Nairobi (KENYA)
Instrumentum Laboris (113-114; 126-127) spells out the role of consecrated persons as witnesses who open new perspectives for experiences of reconciliation, justice and peace. Indeed, African religious men and women, clerical and non-clerical who, according to the 2007 statistics, numbered around 85,040 (In 2007 there were 23,154 religious Priests, 7,921 non-clerical religious and 61,886 consecrated persons in Africa. Cf. Secretaria Status Rationarium Generale Ecclesiae, Annuarium statisticum Ecclesiae 2007, Vatican City 2009.), have flavored the church in Africa as salt of the African faith. These men and women are now on top of the hill as the light of the world. They are an expression of today’s missionary endeavor of the African church not only from one diocese to another or from one African country to another but also from the continent of Africa to other continents.
This new expression of the African Church as light of the world is manifested in the lives of many African priests and consecrated persons who are missionaries in other continents. Today, for example, the Religious Missionary Institute of the Apostles of Jesus, which I am the superior General, has 65 of its 400 members, priests and brothers, working in America, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Australia. Yes, Africa, which received missionaries from Europe and America, is now sending its sons and daughters to the very continents that evangelized us. The prophecy of Pope Paul VI in 1969 while in Kampala that it is time for Africa to raise missionaries for itself, is being fulfilled even beyond the boundaries of the continent of Africa.
This new African venture in evangelization, like any other pioneering experiences has its challenges. It needs encouragement and support. I kindly appeal to you Synod Fathers and other levels of church leadership to help keep this torch burning, that these African missionaries overseas become authentic African salt of the earth and light of the world. This missionary endeavor certainly is for the benefit of the universal church if well guided and directed. It needs our collaborative partnership at all levels, especially in sorting out those who migrate to Europe or America disguising themselves as missionary agents while in actual fact they are not mandated by any church authority.
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Dr. Elard ALUMANDO, Country Director of the DREAM Program (MALAWI)
The DREAM program treats people with HIV/AIDS. Since 2001 it has taken in charge more than 80 thousand people, in Mozambique, in Malawi, and in a total of 10 African countries. Treating AIDS is the true response to the quest for life and healing that rises from these people.
I believe that healing the sick is the true way of preventing the spreading of AIDS in Africa, as the Holy Father said with authority during his visit to Cameroon.
I am a witness to many stories of Resurrection of people who were ill, especially women and children: women who were considered dead, and started to live and work again; women who rose out of the dark pits of condemnation due to the AIDS disease, out of the prison of social stigma, and who regained their place in the life of their cities. I am a witness to women healed, who help other women to approach treatment, who convince even their husbands not to be afraid, who help everybody to be faithful to the treatment. I have seen children born healthy, free from the virus, and there are already several thousands.
These acts of healing are stories of resurrection and of friendship; they are the fruit of joyful, intense and hard work carried out by us of Sant’Egidio in Africa, together with our European brothers and sisters of the Community.
The communion of Europe and Africa was effective even from a scientific point of view. The treatment administered by the DREAM program in Africa is the same as in the West. The DREAM centers offer the state-of-art tri-therapy. Thanks to this collaboration, doctors and health personnel have been trained in Africa, and the results are excellent.
All the treatment and nutritional support offered to the patients is given for free. In our world dominated by money and corruption, gratuitousness is important.
I believe that through the DREAM program, we can look at disease and healing in the perspective of the Gospel and of the Church, removing them from sorcery and from the mystification of sects, unfortunately so widespread in our dear continent, Africa.
These acts of healing are not mysterious and incomprehensible wonders, they are the fruit of work, of communion, of prayer and of the love of the Gospel, and that is the true miracle.
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Prof. Alöyse Raymond NDIAYE, President of the National Committee of the Order of the Knights of Malta in Senegal, Dakar (SENEGAL)
In the working document it is clearly stated that “some women and men in political life are displaying a grave lack of culture in political matters.” This explains their disdain for the human rights that they nonchalantly violate, without soul, with a feeling of complete impunity. As for their relationship with religion and religious institutions, they seem to not understand them and are not interested in them unless to exploit them for anything but spiritual ends. They are incapable, anyhow, of conceiving that one could resolve a disagreement with anything but force, violence.
Leopold Sedar Senghor, Christian poet and humanist, had expressed the same opinion, when alive, attributing the political coups, tyrannical and bloodthirsty regimes, the misappropriation of public funds and the violations of human rights in Africa to the lack of culture of his peers. The lack of culture of the leaders leads to their intolerance, their despotism.
If the conflicts in Africa last so long, it is undoubtedly because they are managed by politicians, without culture or heart, concerned only with safeguarding their personal interests rather than promoting peace. What is highlighted here is the problem of the formation of our leaders who, in effect, could be obstacles to reconciliation, justice and peace, From here the role of education.
Education is a sector that the African Churches have taken on for a long time. Their involvement, appreciated by the faithful and the population, despite some constraints, leads them today to equip themselves with a remarkable network of Catholic universities, called to self-development. First, one must define culture and its relationship with the university. Because the university is the place where future leaders are prepared, therefore they must be questioned.
Generally, the university is defined as the place for the production and transmission of knowledge and know-how. To answer its vocation as “universitas”, the university should not limit its teaching and its studies only to what is useful. It should not limit itself in only developing intellectual attitudes, to the exclusion of those that underline sensitivity. As with Pascal, “There is reason, there is the heart”. It should not examine the sciences separately with no concern for what unites them. “Universitas”… this is the need for a totality or universality, the need for unity. It is taking into account this need that makes the university the place of culture.
All art, said Senghor, is poetry. Poetry is music. Poetry is love. Consequentially, taking art into account, the Fine Arts, for the Catholic universities, of the cultural and artistic heritage of Africa, at the same time the patrimony of humanity in its diversity and wealth, contributes to the promotion of culture, the recognition of man, it encourages exchanges, dialogue, a source of mutual enrichment, of mutual recognition. Because, it is in ignorance of the other that the lack of culture is the cause, the most often, of our conflicts.
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Mr. Assandé Martial EBA, Member of the International Foundation Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro (IVORY COAST)
During these years, we have had to proceed to reconciliations in view of maintaining peace in the different communities.
We were called many times to lead reconciliation in groups and movements in the parish.
To maintain peace in our village, and especially so that justice may reign, we put into place a Council of Wise Men, of which we are members, that works next to the leadership, for reconciliation in all families that have conflicts.
To maintain the cohesion between workers and especially to make social justice and peace reign, we always advised and encouraged employers to create instruments of good management to ensure the company a good culture of justice, the guarantor of social peace.
With a view to favoring the emergence of a new race of laity, lay leaders capable of holding high the torch of faith within their lives, to make justice and peace reign and especially to show themselves as true agents of reconciliation for the progress of the Church in Africa and for a better future for our continent, we hope to see the present Synod study these solutions:
— Creating a new method of catechesis appropriate to the task of taking into account the dimension of the conversion of hearts.
— To stimulate spiritual, civic, moral and political formation of the laity on the social doctrine of the Church.
— To introduce accounting and financial management for the parishes and other diocesan structures.
— To stimulate the creation of associations in the various sectors of activities and to nominate chaplains.
— To stimulate the creation of lay structures in close collaboration with the episcopal conferences to study, analyze and give advice on all questions relevant to the life of the Churches.
— To stimulate the institution of a permanent diaconate and service of minor orders.
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Bro. André SENE, O.H., Responsible of the Pastoral of the Health in the diocese of Thies (SENEGAL)
The lack of interest of the international community and our countries in particular in the fate of these especially repugnant sick persons cannot disguise the evident proof, following the example of the worldwide studies on mental health, that the prevalence of mental illness is very high in many countries in development.
Up until this time when I speak to you and to my knowledge there is no financial program by international organizations or national for mental health.
According to the OMS, mental illnesses are placed third among illnesses in terms of prevalence and are responsible for one-fourth of handicaps. Where are the mentally ill?
— In the streets of most of our cities, it is impossible to walk through our cities without meeting a mentally ill person.
— In some rare psychiatric hospitals.
— The African cultures in a general way still find difficulty in erasing confusion: mentally ill equals possessed. Often nobody knows of their existence, they are a family’s embarrassment and most cases remain hidden. Our cultures must be healed of this ignorance.
The serious weaknesses that Africa knows in this domain, without a doubt accentuated by poverty and conflicts, presents the Church-Family of God in Africa with a challenge to inscribe the socio-sanitary dimension into her agenda in the exercise of faith to continue to denounce indifference of our governments with regard to the respect and care for the mentally ill and to persons addicted to drugs.
The sick must be healed and wounds of those who think they have lost everything must be dressed, wounds that unfortunately will take a long time to heal. However, above all there is a need for prevention.