Synod for Africa -Seventh General Congregation


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VATICAN CITY, 8 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Seventh General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began at 4.30 this afternoon. The session was attended by 212 Synod Fathers and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The session ended at 5.30 p.m. in order to enable participants to attend the concert "Young people against war (1939-2009)", held in the Auditorium on Via della Conciliazione to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:


EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE. "Our European Churches have rejoiced in seeing the sub- Saharan African Churches reach maturity with their own hierarchy, clergy, religious communities and laity, so strongly involved in the life of the parishes and the proclamation of the Gospel on the African continent. For some years now, our relations have developed into an authentic exchange of gifts. Without a doubt many French dioceses and parishes are committed to giving concrete aid to the various African Churches, but today many of our parishes also receive important help from African dioceses. ... I would particularly like to emphasise one very important point: relations between the two bishops (the African bishop and the French bishop) must be as clear as possible. Each time we neglect these prerequisites, it is to the detriment of the mission and to the detriment of the priest. The difficulties we encounter must not hide the richness of the relationship between our Churches or prevent us from giving thanks for the exchange of gifts that we are experiencing".

CARDINAL ANTHONY OLUBUNMI OKOGIE, ARCHBISHOP OF LAGOS, NIGERIA. "Africans are generally known to be very religious people. The idea of God or the deity is innate in us. It is therefore not surprising that two of the world's most widespread religions, Christianity and Islam, have found a warm welcome in the continent. It is however saddening to note that often these religions have been misused and made a source of deadly conflicts in Africa. This notwithstanding, most parents can hardly fulfil their responsibilities to their families without an organised, conscious, consistent and serious family prayer life or, put simply, without referring to God in times of difficulties, joy and sorrow. They firmly know and believe that only God can change, bless and empower the family. ... No matter how bad things may seem to be, no matter what solutions we may seem to proffer, if these are not blessed by God, I wonder how durable our success if any, will be?"

BISHOP MATTHEW KWASI GYAMFI OF SUNYANI, GHANA. "In some parts of Africa because of the culture and tradition of the people before the Church was introduced, many African women find themselves in polygamous marriages through no fault of theirs. Because of this, many of the women attending church are denied the Sacraments of Initiation, Reconciliation and Marriage. ... In some parts of Africa many women attend church regularly and actively participate in all church activities, but are denied the Sacraments of Initiation, Reconciliation and Marriage, not counting the many denied fitting Christian burial for not being baptised. The Church needs to address this painful and unpleasant situation in Africa by giving some special privileges to women, who have been the first wives with children and through no fault of their own have become victims of polygamous marriages, to receive the Sacraments of Initiation and others. The reception of these sorely tried women to the Sacraments will enable them to share in the peace and reconciliation offered by the compassion and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who came to call sinners and not the self righteous".



AND WALES. "With the support of international Catholic agencies, the Church in Africa has been confronting HIV and AIDS since well before the first Synod on Africa. Today concern seems to be waning, even if the problem remains acute for many Africans. Catholic solidarity should continue supporting the long-term commitment of the Church in Africa to raise awareness, to accompany the infected and the affected, to form the youth, and to face this great challenge".

BISHOP EDWARD GABRIEL RISI O.M.I., OF KEIMOES-UPINGTON, SOUTH AFRICA. "The proclamation of the Gospel and the quest to deepen its meaning and practice in Africa faces the same challenges as does culture. The Church is therefore in a privileged position because in her quest to promote the values of the Gospel, she shares a similar struggle with Africa's peoples in their pursuit to preserve and advance those cherished values of their cultural heritage. Creating opportunities for dialogue offers the Church opportunities to understand those who experience alienation in an increasingly secularised and globalised Africa, with its brutal memories of colonisation and oppression. A commitment to open and honest dialogue is vital for forging the way forward so that the influence of the Gospel, like that of culture, is not lost in the emerging voices in Africa. In particular a re-commitment to SECAM can make it an important instrument for dialogue on our continent".