Synod for Africa - Ninth General Congregation


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VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Synod Hall at this afternoon, the Ninth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held in the presence of the Pope. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, and 215 Synod Fathers were present.

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

ARCHBISHOP-BISHOP HENRYK HOSER S.A.C. OF WARSZAWA-PRAGA, POLAND. "The teaching of family values is an urgent necessity in the world and especially in Africa, at a time when growing external pressures relegate responsible parenthood to the domain of healthcare and hospitals and, in so doing, deny the dual nature (spiritual and emotional) of conjugal love. Family pastoral care, and in particular the transmission of life, have been almost completely abandoned to the world of medicine and to technology. And yet some programmes do already exist: twenty-six African countries benefit from educational programmes on family life and natural planning at the embryonic or structural stage. ... The Federation for African Family Action created in Cotonou in 2001 offers, at the request of bishops, formation seminars for educators and for couples".

CARDINAL BERNARD AGRE, ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS OF ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST. "The young nations of Africa have had to call on international banks and other financial bodies in order to put their many development projects into effect. Often, inexperienced directors have been too careless and fallen prey to those people - men and women - whom the experts call 'financial assassins', i.e. jackals who work for organisations skilled in dishonest practices that aim to enrich international financial institutions (with the able support of their States), or for other groups immersed in a world of silence and lies. ... This Synod must examine the problem of annulling the debts that weigh too heavily on certain peoples. In order not to focus merely on the emotional aspects, I would suggest the formation of an international commission to examine the problem, made up of experts in high finance, well-informed pastors, and men and women from the North and South of the world. This commission would be entrusted with a triple mission: studying the feasibility of the operation, because it is obvious that things are not the same everywhere; taking all possible steps not to fall into the same situation again; monitoring the use of the resources, so they may be used effectively for all the elements of the social pyramid: both rural and city dwellers".

ARCHBISHOP PETER J. KAIRO OF NYERI, KENYA. "Nomads have been alive and active for centuries in fifty-two dioceses within AMECEA countries. They are also present in both West and North Africa. Sometimes they provoke and start armed conflict because of a shortage of water and grazing pasture, especially during drought. The Church has to promote dialogue between these different tribes, where the role of elders is very important because the warriors cannot go to raid without the blessing of the elders. The government should also be involved in providing boreholes and dams in arid areas. Health facilities and education should also be provided and promoted among pastoralist peoples. The justice and peace commission should provide education on human rights to the nomads. Parents should be encouraged to educate the girl child. Within these parishes it becomes extremely difficult for a priest to give the people proper pastoral attention. Hence the nomads who are moving about often remain beyond traditional parish activities. There is needed for the Church to put in place new forms of evangelisation and of pastoral attention to the nomadic population. This should include appointing nomadic priests, nomadic pastoral co-ordinators, nomadic catechists, mobile schools, clinics for herdsmen and mobile Church centres".

ARCHBISHOP BONIFACE LELE OF MOMBASA, KENYA. "The stigma associated with AIDS is too heavy for people as individuals or as communities to carry alone. ... They should find courage and hope in us. They hear from religious leaders and their families that, in one way or another, that they are responsible for their illness. We need to help our people to know that HIV AIDS is a sickness and that it is wrong to blame themselves. ... I have seen families send away their daughters-in-law and children because of their suspicion. Family rejection of children is an abomination. It is a grave sin in the eyes of God. It is a distortion of the Gospel message of Jesus which is love, forgiveness, reconciliation, the return to the family of God. ... HIV AIDS is a 'kairos' to challenge us to reveal how deep some of our sins are. There was a man who was dying from AIDS and I was honoured to be with him during his last days. I watched him struggle with his life decisions and with the shame of his illness; the stigma that society had given him. I began to understand my own humanity and sinfulness when he reached up to touch the Cross I was wearing. I felt his acceptance of himself and God's forgiveness and healing. It was at this moment that he asked me to take care of his children that he could no longer do. I felt his trust in me, as his brother and shepherd. God challenged me to accept myself, to be reconciled to myself".

After the Synod Fathers had spoken, a number of auditors addressed the gathering. Excerpts from two of their speeches are given below:


"Between 1990 and 1994, I used the principle of 'bonne puissance' - as entrusted to me by the bishop of the diocese of Butare, Jean Baptiste Gahamanyi, of blessed memory - in the service of theological animation in order to make the leaders of Christian communities aware of the public dimension of the faith. Between April and July 1994, the principle of 'bonne puissance' enabled me to survive the genocide and help, to the best of my abilities, my Tutsi brothers and sisters. Between September 1994 and September 1999, I used the principle of 'bonne puissance' to form the leaders who then brought the Good News to the hills of Butare during the terrible situation of the immediate post-genocide. The Pax Christi International Peace Award came in 1998 as recognition of the universal value of this work".




OVULATION METHOD ITALY). "Spreading and teaching the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) all over the world, has always been accompanied by the proposal of a lifestyle that promotes conjugal love, unity of the family, respect for women and generous openness to accepting new life. Because of its effectiveness and simplicity the BOM can be used by all couples in different contexts, regardless of culture, religion or social status; the method has been well accepted not only by Catholics but also by Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths and beliefs. The couple can manage their fertility naturally, whether it is their desire to achieve or avoid a pregnancy, in every situation of a woman's fertile life: including irregular cycles, breast feeding, pre-menopause, etc. The BOM contributes: (l) to family promotion and responsible procreation in regard to life, conjugal love and fidelity; 2) to promoting the dignity of women; (3) to preventing abortion; (4) to avoiding recourse to assisted reproductive technologies, allowing sub-fertile couples to achieve pregnancy naturally, according to ethical values; (5) to preventing sexually transmitted disease, educating young people in a mature sexuality that includes the spiritual, physical and psychological dimensions. Teaching the BOM can contribute to the promotion and spread of human and Christian values, contributing to evangelisation and pastoral care".

This afternoon's session closed with an address by Rudolf Adada, former head of the Joint United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission for Darfur, one of the special guests attending the Synod at the express invitation of the Holy Father. A brief summary of his words is given below:

"Sudan is the largest country of Africa. It is the crossroads of two worlds, Africa and the Arab world. It borders nine African countries. Since its independence on 1 January 1956, we could say that it has known peace only sporadically. The Global Peace Agreement (WPA), which ended more than twenty years of civil war between the North and South, has created great hope. For the first time the possibility of a democratic Sudan could be glimpsed. At a time when violence seems to be decreasing in Darfur, it is worrisome to note that killings have now begun again in the South. Is peace the Rock of Sisyphus that, to the great misfortune of the Sudanese, rolls back down the moment we think we have reached the summit? Sudan is one country. The international community must look at 'Sudan' and not at 'Darfur and Sudan'. In this holistic vision, the Church has a major role to play in a plural Sudan, between the Christian and animist South and the Muslim North, that is, Darfur. This was the dream of a great Sudanese man, John Garang, the dream for a new Sudan, in peace, in an Africa at peace".