Africa Has a Lot to Offer, Says Opus Dei Prelate

Bishop Echevarría Comments on Initiatives in That Continent

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ROME, OCT. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- With the canonization of its founder approaching, Opus Dei has chosen to put a spotlight on its initiatives in Africa, where the prelature has been active for 45 years.



The "presence of the south of the world in the canonization will be numerous and significant," Bishop Javier Echevarría, prelate of Opus Dei, told the Misna missionary agency.

"The African faithful of Opus Dei -- there are already several thousand -- try in the first place -- like the Asians, Americans, Europeans and those of Oceania -- to live their faith consistently," he said. "And that personal commitment impels them to promote, elbow to elbow with their colleagues and friends, projects directed to resolving the material and spiritual needs of their peoples."

"They suffer from AIDS, poverty, tribal rivalries, and try to do everything possible to eradicate these. As Christians, they feel called to become holy in the midst of the world, of that concrete world of Africa, with its lights and shadows," the bishop added.

Among Opus Dei's projects, "the Monkole Medical Center in Kinshasa should be noted, a hospital that carries out great work in health among people who lack the most elemental facilities and which already has several extensions in the Congo," Bishop Echevarría continued.

For its part, Lagos Business School in Nigeria is dedicated "to the formation of African businessmen, to whom it tries to give good preparation in business management, while fomenting concern for the needs of the community." The program is important, he said, "because good moral formation, and also formation in the social doctrine of the Church, and solid business formation is needed to encourage development and to combat poverty and corruption."

The Harambee 2002 Project, a fund for the support of educational programs in Africa, is being established in part with the donations of faithful who will attend Josemaría Escrivá's canonization this Sunday.

Funds collected will be allocated in a competition open to all who promote educational activities in sub-Saharan Africa. Preference will be given to project benefiting needy women and children residing in rural areas or on the periphery of cities.

Harambee 2002 is a reminder that "what is important are people; and in this case, Africans, who are to be the architects of progress in Africa," Monsignor Echevarría emphasized. "Because of this, education is an imperative element for development, as it opens the doors to work and progress, both material and spiritual. Education is a way (...) of sowing hope. The Harambee 2002 project hopes to contribute a grain of sand to this collective commitment."

"Africa can contribute much to Europe with its openness to transcendence, with the joy that Africans express in daily life, including in difficulties, with their ability to communicate and their appreciation of the good values of family and friendship, with the stateliness they demonstrate as a reflection of human dignity, with the way they spend time," the prelate concluded.