International Congress Studies Apostolic Exhortations for Africa

Pontifical Lateran University Hosts Seminar on Ecclesia in Africa and Africae Munus

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, MAY 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Lateran University today hosted an international seminar about the Church in Africa, titled "From Ecclesia in Africa by John Paul II to Africae munus by Benedict XVI" ("Dall'Ecclesia in Africa di Giovanni Paolo II all'Africae munus di Benedetto XVI").

The seminar explored the relevance of the apostolic visitations to Africa made by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the apostolic exhortations which followed from the synods on the continent – and how the challenge of revitalizing the culture and spreading the Gospel can be met.

Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture, and native of Benin, Monsignor Barthélomy Adoukonou spoke with ZENIT about the significance of these two apostolic exhortations, Ecclesia in Africa in 1995 and Africae munus in 2011.

"With this Congress," explained Monsignor Adoukonou, "we seek to revisit the two synods that took place in regards to Africa: the first was outlined in the Apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, and the second which was outlined by Benedict XVI in Africae munus."

The first synod, which took place in 1994 during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, was intended "to help the Christians of Africa to know what the Church is and, more importantly, who the Church is." The Church, the synod answered, "is the family of God; in other words, the fraternity of Christ, the fraternal Body of Christ."

Africae munus, which came two years after the Benedict XVI’s first apostolic visit to Africa, the 2009 trip to Cameroon and Angola, refers much more to the Resurrection, promoting a spirit of evangelization. "When the Pope tells us that we are the breath of the world, we are extremely happy," Monsignor Adoukonou said. In Africa, "the Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity – the family, the fraternal body of Christ, already on its way towards reconciliation and justice and peace."