Synod for Africa - Tenth General Congregation


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VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Tenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of 211 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

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

BISHOP ALMACHIUS VINCENT RWEYONGEZA OF KAYANGA, TANZANIA. "Mixed marriages have been a source of fuelling misunderstandings between Catholic priests and pastors of the various Christian communities. Besides the persistent problem of insufficient knowledge of the obligations of the Catholic partner, arguments about where the Sacrament has to be celebrated create early backgrounds of division with regards to practicing of one's faith. ... In most of these marriages, parents get divided as to in which faith the children should be baptised and raised. ...There has been a growing tendency that parents in most mixed marriages lack a common tradition of imparting Christian values. ... It is high time that the position of the Church on contracting mixed marriages be revisited and that catechesis on mixed marriages be refocused. Unless bold steps are taken to safeguard the family, efforts of promoting reconciliation, justice and peace will remain inadequate".

ARCHBISHOP TELESPHORE GEORGE MPUNDU OF LUSAKA, ZAMBIA. "In Zambia women are too often the victims of abuse (domestic violence sometimes leading to death), discriminatory cultural or customary practices, and statutory laws clearly biased against them. We bishops must speak more clearly and insistently in defence of the dignity of women in the light of the Scriptures and the social doctrine of the Church. ... To promote respect for women and their integration into Church structures of responsibility, decision making and planning, we call upon the Synod to recommend to all dioceses the establishment or consolidation of family apostolate and women affairs offices, making them operational and fully effective".

BISHOP GABRIEL 'LEKE ABEGUNRIN OF OSOGBO, NIGERIA. "One of the greatest challenges that should concern this Synod is the fate of considerable numbers of African immigrants present in all the countries of the West. Since the economic meltdown, many of these Western countries have put up defensive laws and structures to shore up their economies. Unfortunately among these methods, laws have been passed which come very close to denying even the human rights of immigrants, especially those from Africa. In Italy, especially, unregulated immigration has been made illegal and assistance for immigrants from voluntary charity organisations has been squeezed out. ... In Africa, from the North to the South, from the East to the West, our young people are the major force as well as primary victims of ethnic violence, genocide, armed banditry, criminality, human trafficking, corruption and bad governance. In all these, the prophetic voice of the Church must be heard unambiguously".

BISHOP JOSEPH EFFIONG EKUWEM OF UYO, NIGERIA. "Paul the Apostle reminds us that we do battle with principalities and powers of the rulers of darkness and he asks us to arm ourselves in order to resist their manipulations. ... The Church recognised this and ... not only provided the rite of exorcism but made room for the exorcists. This seems to have fallen into disuse over the last few decades. May I therefore suggest: (1) That an authentic catechesis, deeply biblical and theological, be provided and possibly offered as a course in our theological faculties. A simpler version may also be provided for teaching the faithful. (2) A new rite based on the old rite of exorcism be put in place for use by priests. (3) Each ordinary ... should appoint an exorcist for his particular Church. We owe our people according to our teaching office, to teach them and save them from the claws of false belief and terrible occult practices like witchcraft".

ARCHBISHOP DENIS KIWANUKA LOTE OF TORORO, UGANDA. "Elsewhere in the world we are told that climate change is caused by overgrazing, improper disposal of refuse and by industrial waste. The result of all this is desertification, the drying up of water springs and water contamination and diseases. ... The physical world has laws which must be respected. ... Environmental protection has become a global issue deserving the attention of everybody. Just as the HIV/AIDS pandemic not only infects some people but affects everybody, so also global warming infects and affects everybody. For this reason the Church in Africa should through this Synod seriously address the issue of climate change as a moral obligation for everybody. This Synod should find ways of reconciliation between the earth as a victim and man as an offender".

After the Synod Fathers had spoken, a number of auditors addressed the gathering. An excerpt from one of their speeches is given below:




(ICCPPC), DOUALA, CAMEROON. "We know many of our prisons are dungeons and are overpopulated with poor and disadvantaged persons. They are structurally inadequate and carry out practices which are dehumanising, violent, oppressive and may sometimes cause death. The rights of prisoners are not respected and reinsertion of ex-prisoners is an ordeal. We know that in many dioceses the prison apostolate is either non-existent, poorly organised, with little or no trained personnel, and has little or no support from the Church authority and State. For the Church to better fulfil her ministry of reconciliation, she needs to be more than ever a reconciled community, a place where reconciliation is not only proclaimed but also truly lived. She needs to take every opportunity to make sure that the apostolate to those affected by crime is not neglected. Christ condemns any law or practice which does not save life. Many of our prison institutions do not promote life. If we as Church can do something about it but fail to do so we shall be answerable to our Lord".