Synod for Africa - Eighth General Congregation


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VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican's Synod Hall this morning, the Eighth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held in the presence of the Pope and 219 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal.

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

BISHOP JAN OZGA OF DOUME-ABONG' MBANG, CAMEROON. "I believe it is extremely important that this Second Synod for Africa should go through the African family to produce the desired fruits. Because the formation of a new culture of reconciliation, justice and peace is a task for the family before being a task for society. If these three values take root and find foundation and meaning within the family, their culture could spread to all levels of African society. ... Justice is the just appreciation, recognition and respect for the rights and merits of each person. The family is called to teach true justice which is the only way to achieve respect for individual human dignity".

BISHOP ALBERT VANBUEL S.D.B., OF KAGA-BANDORO, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. "In recent months we have deplored the divisive acts among priests themselves, between priests and bishops, between priests and the laity; this is certainly not the Gospel we must proclaim. We were sent to build a Church united in the Spirit of God Who guides us, and we cannot at the same time tear at the Body of Christ. The Year for Priests dedicated to us by the Holy Father should inspire us and offer us a new direction: faith in Christ, faith in priests and faith in every baptised person. There is a general expectation for a time of peace, justice and reconciliation. The events that we have experienced and continue to experience prove that there is always a reason for hope, and that every night we live through is followed by a dawn and a new day. Every one of us is weak, a sinner; but together we must listen to the Word of God, we must live it, to build our Church-Family in communion".


CONGO. "Ever since the implantation of the Church in Africa and, more specifically, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, school education has benefited from her particular attention. Consequently, schools of all levels, as well as institutes of higher education and universities, are places for the apostolate. ... But the multiform crisis associated with the continual wars has brought deplorable consequences in the area of education. ... Poor education compromises the future for generations of young people and sacrifices their capacities, which should go to serve the entire nation. This is unjust and does not guarantee peace. Frustrated youth remains at the mercy of wrongdoers. In a climate of general complacency engendered by indecent practices, the quality of teaching is not guaranteed. Organisers, promoters and parents are aware that the diplomas handed out do not reflect the intellectual and moral level necessary for the world of science and of work".


CONFERENCE OF LESOTHO. "The Church in Lesotho, like many other local Churches of Africa is involved in the area of health, education and in the service of the poor. Lesotho is about fifty percent Catholic and the Church has the majority of schools in the country. From these numbers one would hope that Catholic principles would prevail in the running of the country. On the contrary, people embrace anything that will enable them to have bread on the table even if it is opposed to the teaching of the Church. Many countries of Africa have signed the Maputo Protocol and Lesotho is no exception to that. Even though the services of our Catholic hospitals are appreciated by many we are afraid that many abortions will be performed in private hospitals. What the Church of Lesotho needs urgently in order to continue her service to the poor is for the sister Churches of the developed world to influence their governments not to impose ideologies that are foreign to Africa. During this period of transition to financial self reliance, Africa still needs the support of its sister Churches of the developed world".


Botswana is a small stable democratic country. ... We are a middle income country that attracts people from other places of Africa. ... There are a good number of refugees seeking asylum. We have peace because of our traditional mechanism of the 'kgotla', i.e. the court of the ruler where dialogue is respected. Our belief is that the greatest war is one of words. The Church has introduced this cultural practice to the parishes to help make and promote peace and understanding. Right now, there is a strain on our resources, job market and health facilities because of the influx of people due to the socio-political situation of the region. We are concerned about xenophobia due to the present harsh economic downturn. The Church has been with the people promoting peace and brotherhood. There has been no need for minorities to use violence to make their concerns known. AIDS is a challenge for the countries in Southern Africa. Botswana is working hard through education to prevent new infections. Treatment is available for citizens but unfortunately not for refugees and foreigners living in the country. AIDS has ravaged the foundations of Botswana society. It has the potential to be used as a weapon of war and conflict. How do you forgive one who deliberately infects you with the killer virus?".


COLOMBIA. "Thousands and thousands of black people were brought to America where they were auctioned and forced to work until they died. ... Peter Claver awaited the 'slave ships' with expectations different from those of the traders. ... For the apostle the new arrivals were 'children of God' who needed to know all the truth of the Gospel. ... Africa is the 'Great Motherland' of all our black peoples from Canada to the Tierra del Fuego, including all the marvels of their presence in the Antilles and the Caribbean. How many things that make the American continent great have only been possible with the contribution of black people, heirs to such still-hidden richness, to such a wealth of symbols that with the passage of time have enriched the Christian message, to such joy of believing in the faith even though life has been so hard to them. The history of Africa in America is not of yesterday, it is living today. For this reason I believe that this Synod should also include a reference to the black people of America (I hope you have noticed the use of the word 'American' to designate the whole of America: North, Central, Antillean, Caribbean and South). A large part of their heart still lives and will continue to live in Africa, they will appreciate what happens here and consider it as pertaining to them".