Synod for Africa - Twelfth General Congregation


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VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Synod Hall at 4.30. p.m. today, the Twelfth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began in the presence of the Pope. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, and 210 Synod Fathers were present.

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

BISHOP TESFASELASSIE MEDHIN OF ADIGRAT, ETHIOPIA. "I have not noticed enough attention accorded to formation, which is a fundamental subject for the Church in Africa. ... We must therefore ensure that the formation we give to our future priests and agents of evangelisation makes them aware of the challenges, self-confident, balanced and mature ministers who could stand against and through the serious turbulence of the times. ... The formation programmes of the major seminaries and houses of religious formation should be given serious attention and evaluation, to determine their quality and effectiveness in producing members of the Church who can be true witness to reconciliation, justice and peace. We should use our higher learning institutes by establishing a faculty which develops and integrates into its modules the best practices and most effective African cultural ways of reconciliation".


CONGO. "Peace goes hand in hand with justice, justice with right, right with truth. ... Thus it is necessary, at all costs, to promote a rule of law in which primacy is truly given to law and especially to constitutional law; a rule of law in which arbitrary and subjective judgments do not create the law of the jungle; a rule of law in which national sovereignty is recognised and respected; a rule of law in which each individual is fairly given his due. ... In seeking peaceful solutions, all paths, especially the diplomatic and political paths, must aim at re-establishing truth, justice and peace. ... It is in by eliminating all barriers, exclusion, discriminatory laws in worship and society, and especially by suppressing hatred, that men are reconciled and peace is made".

BISHOP KRIKOR-OKOSDINOS COUSSA OF ALEXANDRIA OF THE ARMENIANS, EGYPT. "In 1915, the Ottomans ... killed the Armenian people in Greater Armenia and Lesser Armenia (Turkey). One and a half million people perished during this genocide. The Armenians left and were dispersed, first in the Middle East then throughout the world. ... As this Synod takes place ninety-four years after the killings, following Christ's call to forgive one's enemies, the leaders of the Armenian State and the heads of the Armenian Churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical) are performing an act of public pardon towards the Turks. We do so while appealing to the Turks to recognise the genocide, to pay homage to the martyrs and to grant Armenians their civil, political and religious rights. The path of reconciliation between the two States has begun. For this, I appeal to political leaders that they may support our progress alongside the Turks, with the Universal Church and the African Church in distress".


OF THE KINGSHIP OF CHRIST, ITALY. "Members of Secular Institutes are a hidden presence, accepting the precariousness of daily life alongside others without protection or privileges, searching for ways and solutions that sometimes exist only in the realm of possibility, and living with the longing for universal brotherhood. The vocation of secular institutes highlights the need for the promotion of a mature laity, one capable of contributing to the edification of a civil society based on the human values of Christianity. ... Since most secular institutes in Africa are female institutes, there is an urgent need to favour and promote the worth of women, not just as wives and mothers, but as people capable of responsibility and autonomy in different areas of social life, just as there is an urgent need for them to play a specific and not just a subordinate role in the Church. If the first fracture of mankind, caused by sin, was that between man and woman, one sign of peace and reconciliation would be the promotion of authentic joint responsibility and effective acknowledgment of equal dignity between men and women, over and above all domination and discrimination".

Today's General Congregation concluded with an address by Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), one of the three special guests who are participating in the Synod at the invitation of the Holy Father. Excerpts from his remarks are given below.

"First and foremost, Africa means shared values of civilisation based on the historical awareness of belonging to the same people. ... Africa, martyred, exploited, despoiled by slavery and colonisation but now politically sovereign, must not fall back into rejection and negation, even if she has a duty to remember the past. She must have the greatness to forgive and continue to develop a cultural conscience based on her own identity which rejects alienating assimilation. She must study the operational concepts of Blackness and 'African-ness', including the diaspora. ... Africa has always been presented in the light of the difficulties she faces, but she is the land of the future which in the next forty years will experience strong demographic growth. ... With [her] resources, ... Africa cannot be ignored in the economic development of the planet. ... Food security is essential for the reduction of poverty, the education of children and the health of the people, but also for lasting economic growth. ... From this point of view, one essential factor is the contribution of African women to agricultural production and commerce, and their role in nourishing the entire family. In fact, any initiative aimed at facing the problem of food insecurity in Africa cannot hope to be successful without taking this economic and social fact into account. ... Of all the suffering the African continent experiences, hunger remains the most tragic and the most intolerable. Any commitment to justice and peace in Africa cannot be separated from the need for progress in achieving the right to food for all. ... The Church has always given herself the task of comforting the misery of the poorest and the motto of the FAO is 'Fiat Panis': 'Bread for all'. Most Holy Father, in your last Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' you highlight how all economic decisions have moral consequences. ... The vision of a world free of hunger is possible if there is political will at the highest level. ... The great spiritual and moral forces are an inestimable support for us in our activities. ... I would also like to praise the Church's action in the field, with the poorest of the poor. Missionaries and religious ... often undertake difficult tasks alongside inter-governmental organizations, NGOs and civil society, tasks that are at times ungrateful but always useful. ... I would like to underline the convergence of religious teachings, especially those of the Catholic Church and Islam, towards the need to oversee the rational use of resources on the basis of a strategy respectful of the persons and things of this world, without excess or waste. All these teachings underline the fundamental role of social responsibility, recommending solicitude towards the poorest. From this point of view, the Church's social doctrine plays an essential role".