Aid Must Not Wound Africa's Dignity, Says Cardinal Arinze

Insists That Continent Needs West's Solidarity But Not Its Guns

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ROME, SEPT. 12, 2003 (Zenit.org).- What Africa needs from Europe and the United States is understanding, cooperation and solidarity -- but not weapons, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.



"There is great need for understanding between Europe and Africa," the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said in an interview with the SIR news agency.

The Nigerian cardinal was speaking in view of a meeting organized in Portugal next February by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community in collaboration with the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

The interview focused on the topic "Africa and the European Union: Associates in Solidarity."

"To understand is already much, because to understand the difficulty another is facing is already a good beginning," Cardinal Arinze said. He cautioned, however, that assistance must be given "without too much control, because every state, even if small, has its dignity."

The cardinal added: "Europe must discourage those groups which foster divisions in the African countries and seek support to start violent rebellions."

Moreover, there are great possibilities for action in the area of education, health and agrarian development, he said. It is an area of cooperation between the two continents that can be covered not only by governmental agencies, but also through the Church, associations, nongovernmental organizations, doctors, and academics, Cardinal Arinze pointed out.

Likewise, Europe must take care "not to impose demographic policies on African families, suggesting, for example, that they have no more than two children," something that is "unjust because it affects the cultural, religious and social dimension and the African conscience," he said.

"The key to resolve the problem of overpopulation is development," he stressed.

Europe should help Africa in the implementation of agricultural and commercial methods, but it "must not exercise excessive control over the price of raw materials produced in Africa -- cacao, coffee, coconut oil -- and must not support corrupt individuals," the cardinal said.

"It cannot be denied that food is lacking, but weapons are never lacking," he added. "Extremely poor countries always have very modern weapons at their disposal. Where do they come from?

"Europe, but also North America, should ask itself this question. A country is not helped by selling arms to it. European countries should take into account ethical considerations and not just think of commercial interests."