Synod for Africa - Eleventh General Congregation


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VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Eleventh General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began this morning in the presence of the Holy Father. The session was attended by 221 Synod Fathers, and 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 LOUIS NZALA KIANZA OF POPOKABAKA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "The serious problems of want and poverty, the tragedy of hunger, the lack of access to medical care and other basic needs that most African countries are experiencing, demands of our Churches today a new spirit of solidarity, communion and inventive charity. The Churches of Africa must be more daring, more inventive and more proactive in developing structures able to making this form of basic solidarity part of their ecclesial praxis. ... It is vital to create funds for solidarity at the diocesan, national, regional and continental levels. These funds for solidarity could help us on the African level to intervene, within our means, without waiting for everything to come from the West. Diocesan, national, regional and continental Caritas could be the appropriate instruments for the creation of these funds".


PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLES. "The economic crisis and the conflicts that scar many countries on the continent of Africa have led to worrying xenophobic feelings towards immigrants, who are transformed into scapegoats for internal political and economic problems. Often, as a result, the immigration policies of States have become more rigid, thus making it more difficult for migrants to stay in a country or to find work. In this context, respect for human rights, the principles of democracy and legality, good governance, the deepening of political dialogue and the strengthening of international co-operation are the guidelines that will direct the present and future of Africa. The pastoral dimension in this context is not of secondary importance. Only an authentic relationship of justice will, in fact, lead to peace, and, from this, the Church in Africa will be able to draw strength in the service of reconciliation and the proclamation of the Gospel".


CONFERENCE. "Africa continues to thirst for good governance. ... The Church in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa has continued to struggle to bring on board systems of governance that address justice through service to the common good. Pastoral letters have continually addressed bad governance which, by and large, can be termed the cancer of Africa. ... What is clear in Kenya and the larger Africa is that some leaders would rather stick to constitutions that give them unchecked power leading to anarchy and dictatorship. ... The Church in Kenya continues to stress the urgency of reforms through good systems of justice . ... Consequently it is urgent: (1) To have a formation programme for people in government. (2) To form good and holy politicians as agents of good governance. (3) To provide chaplaincies for politicians. (4) To strengthen Catholic media so as to enhance moral formation for all. (5) To enhance the prophetic role of the Church everywhere. (6) To aggressively attend to the ongoing formation of all agents of evangelisation, including politicians, based on sound catechism and the social teachings of the Church".

BISHOP AUGUSTINE OBIORA AKUBEZE OF UROMI, NIGERIA. "In the past, our forefathers believed in the existence of witches and the havoc they wreaked on mankind and society. Witches are said to possess super human powers that they use to perpetrate evil. ... That is to say, in contrast to normal human beings witches conceive and cause the most horrible misfortune on their families and communities. Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated, and ostracised from the community. Sometimes, they are taken to the forest and slaughtered or disgraced publicly and murdered. Sometimes suspected witches are bathed in acid or poisoned to death. There have also been instances where they were poisoned or buried alive. Some Churches do not help matters. as there have been cases of Pentecostals who chained and tortured suspected witches in order to extract confession. Unfortunately, in families and schools, and even in churches and mosques, in the media and films, Africans are made to believe that witches are real and that witchcraft is effective. ... One wonders why this primitive superstition still makes sense to a lot of Africans in the twenty-first century. That is why we feel it necessary to present it to this synodal body for specific statements to guide our flock".

ARCHBISHOP JAIME PEDRO GONCALVES OF BEIRA, MOZAMBIQUE. "The Church in Mozambique acted as intermediary in the reconciliation talks that put an end to a civil war that had lasted for sixteen years. An effective peace agreement was signed and the country remains peaceful. Initiatives such as this must be developed and promoted in Africa. ... The Church has to form people able to bring reconciliation and peace for the resolution of conflicts, ... because the African political world is witnessing the re-emergence and upsurge of violence, the re-creation of dictatorships and political persecutions, My hope is for a jubilee of reconciliation for the entire continent of Africa as the fruit of a universal commitment in favour of reconciliation".


CONGO. "Conflicts and wars have led, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to women being rendered victims and objects. Thousands of women have, at the hands of all armed groups, suffered massive sexual violence as a weapon of war, in flagrant violation of international law. On the basis of our experience in Democratic Republic of Congo, in order to bring some comfort to women and children for the consequences and traumas they have suffered, we propose: (1) Combating sexual violence by going back to its ultimate cause which is the crisis of governance. ... (2) Creating homes for women and young girls as centres for listening and accompanying these violated and traumatised women. (3) Direct involvement of women in the 'Justice and Peace' Commissions: so that women may promote peace and fight against the degrading ideas that affect them. ... (4) Formation of women through catechesis and literacy campaigns, to allow them to play their role properly. Such formation is divided into three modules: dignity and vocation of woman, woman as the artisan of peace, and woman as a protagonist in social change. (5) Creating structures for the promotion of women".