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Dr. Alberto PIATTI, Secretary General of the Foundation AVSI, Milano (ITALY)
Africa’s greatest treasure is the thirst for Meaning, for the spirituality of God – that in sated Europe has vanished. The revelation that Christ is the answer to this desire of man made for his fulfilment by his Creator, a fulfilment that is present here and now in the Holy Church.
This is the fascination of faith that meets and approaches man’s freedom. This attracts young people.
I say fascination because with my wife I am living the adventure of bringing up 5 children (an African family, almost).
What moves them is the fascination of faith as a knowledge of reality in its deepest truth and certainly not rules and ethical or environmental consequences.
I ask you to reflect whether, often, this tension may seem to be a premise but then, in the act, the tension is not maintained, a dualism and a relativism are introduced in the operative consequences, in our work. Thus too often our agenda appears to coincide with the agenda of international organs and in particular the United Nations: the glass building seems increasingly to be the temple where the new humanist and relativist religion celebrates its rites with the Secretary General of the day in the role of a secular Pope.
For brevity I will refer to two fundamental aspects of our expression of charity: education and health.
For this reason we believe that permanent education is a determining factor in the conscience of the faithful that is aimed at the relationship between Creator and created in action as well. Not just formal education, then. But here the question arises: what are the educational contents transmitted by Catholic schools? We cannot be satisfied with the millennium objectives.
I also ask urgently that the value of the civil and social dignity in the works of the Church be recognized as a contribution to the common good in line with the principle of subsidiarity. The Church offers primary education to 50% of the school population and 50% of basic health services in many countries on the African continent and this is not sufficiently recognized.
In the face of the quantity of service offered to the brothers by the Church, the Global Fund to Fight the Three Great Illnesses only give 3.6% of all the resources it manages to faith-based organizations.
The Ugandan Episcopal Conference has, in this sense, operated admirably but there is still much to do.
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Mr. Ermelindo Rosário MONTEIRO, Secretary General of the Episcopal Commission Justice and Peace, Maputo (MOZAMBIQUE)
The Church in Africa has many challenges to face. In Mozambique, for example, during and after the civil war, the Catholic Church collaborated, in many ways, to make persons conscious of national pardon and reconciliation and thus recover the human and social tissue of the people, with regards to peace. It organized the union of all its living forces (laity, religious, priests) to mobilize public opinion on pardon and reconciliation. It promoted teaching the people about peace, through the public speeches of its Bishops in Charters, Communications and Pastoral Exhortations.
The local Bishops created systematic encounters of dialogue with the government officials and with the officers of the National Resistance movement to emphasize that it was not weapons, but dialogue that was the right path to achieve peace. The Church also formed more than 2,000 Social Integrators (Leaders of Reconciliation) who brought to all countries the message of forgiveness and reconciliation for peace. Fridays were dedicated to prayer for peace. On other occasions, ecumenical prayer and inter-religious prayer for peace were held.
Facing today’s new realities and new challenges, she must also keep in mind the internal aspects of the Church that could constitute a counter-witness to reconciliation and justice, making the building of peace difficult to achieve.
For all these reasons and many more, we would like to suggest to our pastors who continue persistently in the proclamation of the truth and in the denunciation of all that could harm reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa, for your selfless commitment, dear Bishops, is an example that is growing in each of the faithful that were entrusted to you.
I would also like to suggest to our pastors to strengthen the commissions of justice and peace that they may effectively contribute more and better every time, as salt of the earth and light of the world, in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.
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Mrs. Barbara PANDOLFI, President General of the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of Christs’ Regality (ITALY)
The members of Secular Institutes are a hidden presence, accepting the precariousness of daily life, side by side with others, without protection and privileges, in search of ways and solutions sometimes only possible, lived with the longing for a universal brotherhood.
Because of this, the vocation of Secular Institutes is evidence of the need for the promotion of a mature laity, that may contribute to the edification of a civil society based on the human values of Christianity.
Particularly in the search for justice and for peace, the experience of the consecrated lay persons, who are inserted into different circles of social life, may favor micro-processes of reconciliation to contribute to a critical consciousness, singling out in the light of the Gospel, alternative ways of justice and sharing. Our life and experiences bring us to look at the world and history, with discernment and a critical sense, but also with a positive vision that starts with the certainty that, everywhere, signs and seeds of God’s presence may be found, that demand acknowledgment, promotion and accompaniment, in the true style of dialogue and witness.
If woman is a pillar of the African society, this is often done in a “hidden” manner, unofficial and unknown, amongst difficulty and prejudice.
Feminine Institutes, making up the majority of secular Institutes in Africa, have an urgent need of favoring and promoting woman’s worth, not just because she is wife and mother, but in her capability for responsibility and autonomy in different circles of social life and the urgency for her distinguishing and not just subordinate presence; in the Church.
If the first fracture in mankind, caused by sin, was that between man and woman, one of the signs of peace and of reconciliation, perhaps, could be given by the promotion of an authentic joint responsibility and of an effective acknowledgment of equal dignity between men and women, beyond all domination and discrimination.
Perhaps the moment has arrived that woman, often, traditionally subjected by man, may truly stand, in all areas of social and ecclesial life, facing man, in dialogue with him. In this sense the Gospel may become an authentic force for change.
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Rev. Sister Maria Ifechukwu UDORAH, D.D.L., Superior General of the “Daughters of Divine Love”, Enugu (NIGERIA)
I support what His Excellency Bishop Adewale Martins from Nigeria suggested as a plan for the youth – but I wish also to add that attention be given to children as well. The Holy Childhood Association is doing a great work already in some of our countries but a more focused direction can be given to their programmes so that they learn more about Christian culture and Catholic values. A syllabus can be drawn up by dioceses for use in Catholic Schools for religious instruction. It then means that greater attention be paid to the spiritual formation of children in primary and secondary schools. A planned programme for youth activities in the Universities will then be a continuation of work started at primary and secondary levels. When therefore candidates for religious life and the priesthood are drawn from the society in the next ten years, formation will be a lot easier.
About consecrated persons as indicated in the Instrumentum. Laboris Nos. 113 and 114, I want to agree with the submission of His Eminence Francis Cardinal and to add that all agents of evangelization see ourselves as team players for the Church Family of God for effective positive witnessing and not as competitors. Sr. Felicity Harry has made the point for consecrated persons but I wish to suggest, in addition, that regular meetings for dialogue and sharing of ideas be organized for diocesan priests and consecrated persons working in the dioceses. Such occasions can also be used to run workshops on team spirit and team work for all agents of evangelization.
Many indigenous congregations of religious now engage in mission works ad-intra and ad-extra and are faced with the challenge of lack of adequate support from the Church – family of God for their work. I propose that some attention be given to this matter by our Synod Fathers.