Africans Try Giving Europe an Inside Look at Issues

Church Officials Visit Political Leaders Before Summit

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, AUG. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A group of bishops and other Church officials from Africa are making a tour to visit European political leaders and promote Africa-centered strategies ahead of the Millennium Development Goals Review Summit in New York next month.



The seven-member delegation includes three prelates, two priests and two laypeople.

"The Church in Africa, often the only civil society actor able to reach remote communities, provides services in the absence of effective governments. Taking these grassroot experiences into account in policy making is crucial to overcome difficulties which currently impede development of the African continent," affirmed a statement from the CIDSE in announcing the bishops' tour.

The CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, which is supporting the delegation. The delegation itself was organized by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

Stories from Africa

"The delegation aims at inspiring European leaders and EU officials traveling to the MDG review summit in New York with concrete stories from Africa," the statement explained. And it affirmed: "[P]ositive change is possible."

The African delegation draws on a variety of experiences and expertise. Bishop Francisco Silota of Chimoio, Mozambique, vice president of SECAM, is part of the group.

His brother bishop from Kinkala, Congo, Bishop Louis Portella, will also be addressing the European politicians. Bishop Portella has survived three attempts on his life and strongly advocates democratization and transparency in the management of oil revenues.

As well, Philomena Johnson, director of Caritas Ghana, forms part of the delegation.

The delegation will visit Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland from Sept. 7 to Sept. 18.

As part of the program, Bishop Portella and European Commissioner for Internal Market and Service Michel Barnier will debate in the European Parliament on Sept. 15 the theme "Undermining Africa's Future?" on the lack of transparency in extractive industries in Africa.

"Its enormous revenues are pocketed by transnational companies and a small African elite," the CIDSE statement explained, "leaving the majority of the population in many resource-rich countries in extreme poverty."