Interventions From Synod's 12th Congregation

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given Monday afternoon at the Twelfth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.



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H. Exc. Mons. Robert MUHIIRWA, Bishop of Fort Portal (UGANDA)

I speak of the great challenge of poverty that I see in my country, Uganda and particularly of my diocese of Fort Portal, which has a population of about one Million Catholics, we have about 2000 Catechists. My diocese like many others in Africa, I believe, have a great potential. For example, a lot good land in rural areas, towns and cities. But as we stand, financially, we are unable to develop this land and sustain ourselves financially. This is the reason why we are always asking for financial assistance from our sister churches in Europe, America and other developed countries for the construction of Churches, building rectories for our parishes, convents, means of transport for our pastoral duties, etc. For all the help we receive we are very grateful, indeed.

However, if we have to be a mature church, and vibrant church which has to be self sufficient and self propagating, we need also to become more self sufficient in depending on own resources which we can be able to tap and be in a position to support the programs of the Church and pay just wages to our catechists, religious and including priests, for the latter this may help them not voluntarily leave our dioceses for greener pastures elsewhere. Besides that we need to put up programs for the youth so that they are not taken by Moslems and Pentecostal Churches which are pouring millions of dollars in our countries to lure them to their religions.

Can we have some more dialogue on the way that our sister Churches or dioceses in the developed world assist us? For example, help sister dioceses and conferences on the possibilities of investment for self reliance, so that we are able to give just wages to our pastoral agents, especially the catechists and others? Can we be able to make some of the pastoral programs on own, overcoming the dependency syndrome, that is causing some donors to be fatigued? Let the wisdom in this expression, sum up my submission: "Give a man a fish, and will be coming to you everyday, but give him a hook and will fish for himself every day".

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H. Exc. Mons. Kyrillos WILLIAM, Bishop of Assiut of Copt Rite (EGYPT)

Out of a total population of 80 million, Christians in Egypt number about 10 million, of which some 300 thousand are Catholics: divided into the majority, Coptic Catholics, then Melkites, Maronites, Syrians, Armenians, Chaldeans and some Latins.

The Catholic Church in Egypt is a small community which preserves its style as universal Church, carrying with it the challenges of all African Churches, each having its own specificity, living in an Arab-Muslim context different from those of other African countries.

It is also a local Church rich in traditions, cultures, rites, and its own liturgy.

The Church in Egypt is present in its social-pastoral activities that are done by dioceses, religious congregations, and lay organizations.

This presence manifests itself in various ways:

We give priority to education. In school, we educate the child to tolerance, respect for the other who is different, and to human values. This training creates bridges between the various religious and social levels.

Socio-economic development: such as the promotion of women, rural activities (literacy, health, microprojects, etc).

Some of the challenges facing the Catholic Church in Egypt: religious fundamentalism, the emigration of cadres of Christians, refugees, ecumenical work which leaves to be desired the appropriate formation of priests, religious and the laity to face the changing Egyptian society and its new pleas. Promoting communion between different rites and new movements within the Church.

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H. Exc. Mons. Philippe RANAIVOMANANA, Bishop of Ihosy (MADAGASCAR)

One can only thank the European organizations, Catholic or not, who financially and materially helped the Churches in the southern hemisphere and certain dioceses in equipping themselves with these instruments. The Church in Africa is grateful to the North for these various aids.

However, this aid is often conditioned by its donors. A large number of programs of the Church in Africa still depend largely on the conditions of the donors. This state effectively threatens the autonomy and propriety on one hand, on the other there is the threat of putting into place projects or structures that are not right for the local Church and recipients. For this, mutual trust and understanding by both parties is necessary in order to avoid tainted gifts.

The investment in social communication means must reach these villages which are isolated and cut off from the world, the farmers who constitute 85% of the population who do not have access to information and training, thus deprived of the minimum of rights and duties of citizens and Christians, while they are called to be the artisans of reconciliation, peace, and justice.

The formation of personnel to the mastery of these highly technological means which never stop evolving, is costly! The formation, often to be followed in Europe, is a necessity, but remains outside the financial possibilities of the diocese. On the other hand, to evangelize the media well, the animators must have a solid Christian foundation. This is the condition for success.

Introducing diocesan radio aims, first of all, at communion between each diocese. But the introduction of a Satellite-Network will contribute a great deal to interdiocesan and national exchanges and sharing, by means of a common program. It has as its mission in encouraging communion in the evangelization effort, that the dioceses appreciate themselves.

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H. Exc. Mons. Laurent MONSENGWO PASINYA, Archbishop of Kinshasa (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

Peace goes hand in hand with justice, justice with right, right with truth.

Without justice, social peace is badly placed. Thus, the promotion of the State of Law is necessary, at any price, where the primacy of the law reigns, notably constitutional law; the States of Law where the arbitrary and subjectivity do not create the law of the jungle; States of Law where national sovereignty is recognized and respected; States of Law where to each one, its due is equitably rendered.

Without truth, it is difficult to ensure justice and to speak of rights. The consequence of this is that right and not right have equal freedom of the city; which makes it impossible to have an harmonious order of things or “tranquillitas ordinis”. “In truth there is peace” (Benedict XVI).

This is why in seeking peaceful solutions, all notable diplomatic and political approaches aim at reestablishing truth, justice and peace.

Christ is our peace, He made peace, He proclaimed peace, so that all Jews and pagans could be made one people. Not by leaving each other with their privileges and their rights, but in abolishing exclusion, in pulling down the wall of cultural and social separation, in destroying the hatred which He crucified upon the cross with his body. Jews and Gentiles are no longer foreigners, or strangers, but close friends, fellow-citizens of the saints, and each one has the same heritage (Eph 3:6) having belonged in the past to the one Israel. In this way, He created a new man, to reconcile them both to God and to give them access to the Father through the Spirit.

It is in doing away with all these barriers, exclusion, discriminatory laws in faith and society, and especially in killing hatred that one reconciles men and peace is made.

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H. Exc. Mons. Raymond Leo BURKE, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature (VATICAN CITY)

The Church as the Bride of Christ is the mirror of justice. She is to announce and safeguard the truth which, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, "alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development" (Caritas in veritate, no. 9). Her teaching and discipline regarding Holy Matrimony, by which the family, the first cell of Her life and of the life of society is formed and nurtured, is fundamental to her fidelity as the mirror of justice in the world.

The matrimonial tribunal, in which the Diocesan Bishop exercises his office of judge on behalf of the faithful who accuse their marriage of nullity, is an essential part of the Church's ministry of justice. Each Bishop must take care, therefore, to establish and rightly order the matrimonial tribunal, a responsibility which he may jointly fulfill through an interdiocesan tribunal.

In contemporary culture, it is essential that the Church announce the truth about the conjugal union between one man and one woman, which is, by its very nature, exclusive, indissoluble, and ordered to the procreation of offspring. The faithful observance of the Church's discipline regarding marriage is one of the proven means "to assist couples and guide families in the challenges they encounter" and to purify the secular culture of practices like "forced marriages" and polygamy.

The decisions of the matrimonial tribunal reflect to the faithful and to society, in general, the truth about marriage and the family. The officials of the tribunal must, therefore, be well prepared by the study of canon law and by experience.
Through the celebration of this special assembly may the Church, drawing upon the particular genius of the African culture, be ever more perfectly the mirror of justice regarding marriage and the family for the sake of the peoples of Africa and, indeed, of the whole world.

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H. Exc. Mons. Tesfaselassie MEDHIN, Bishop of Adigrat (ETHIOPIA)

I have not noticed enough attention accorded to formation which is a fundamental subject to the Church in Africa as she renders her service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, as "... the salt of the earth ...and the light of the world".

The Church carries out her mission through her structures and institutions, and most basically through Bishops, priests, Religious men and women, catechists and the lay faithful who, at their respective levels, have to play the role of Guides and models in Christian communities as "reconcilers", "just persons", "peace makers".

Priestly Formation work is crucial for this objective to be realized.

We must therefore ensure that the formation we give to our future priests and agents of evangelization helps them be cognizant of the challenges, self-confident, balanced and mature ministers who could stand against and through the serious turbulences of the time.

Recommendations:

-- There is a serious need to understand the destructive pressures and challenges confronting our societies in Africa today, with special attention to families and youths. This calls upon the Church to design more specific formation programmes.

-- 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 - 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 mechanisms to cater for the training of resource personnel in service to reconciliation, justice and peace, who could render their services at the national, regional and continental levels as need be.

-- Appreciation of diversities in our African societies is a reality that cannot be underestimated.

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H. Exc. Mons. Norbert Wendelin MTEGA, Archbishop of Songea (TANZANIA)

Many of our people are tortured, harassed and assassinated simply due to unfounded malicious suspicions fomented by sorcery and witchdoctors. There are no laws to defend them, governments do condone, some leaders do conspire with the witchdoctors, some governments do legalize. Many leaders do believe in sorcery, superstition and occultism. Required: Deeper evangelisation, advocacy and prophetic voice to our governments.

The survival of our farmers is precarious. Often their plight does not feature in the budgets of our governments and very often they are cheated. The Church in Africa must fight for farmers and pastoralists: That they must get their right share in the Budget, that basic infrastructures and basic needs for their work and products are guaranteed, that arrangements be made for stable and good markets, that internal markets be protected, and that they be initiated to saving and lending micro-finance cooperatives.

For our politicians peace means `a quiet atmosphere which allows them to rob and enjoy the money of their countries'. For them, free and fair elections means ` success to bring people to the polls in total ignorance of their inherent rights' and of the malicious maneuvers by the candidates. Politicians believe that being elected means being given the ticket to rob the country.

We love Moslems. It is our history and culture to live with them. But the danger which threatens Africa's freedom, sovereignty, democracy and human rights is first the Islamic political factor , i.e., the intended plan and the clear process of `identifying Islam with politics and vice versa' in each of our African countries. Secondly it is the Islamic monetary factor whereby huge sums of money from outside countries is being poured in our countries to destabilize peace in our countries and to eradicate Christianity.

Ethnicity is a cancer which torments Africa.

We must immediately inculcate reconciliation as our spirituality and life as well as our immediate action.

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H. Exc. Mons. Krikor-Okosdinos COUSSA, Bishop of Iskanderiya of the Armenians (EGYPT)

I would like to share with you the witness that my Armenian Church brings, which after the 1915 genocide, is present in the entire world because of its diaspora.

In 1915, the Ottomans, spurred by jealousy, killed off the Armenian people present in the Armenia Major and in Armenia Minor (Turkey). One and a half million persons perished during this genocide.

The Armenians left and were scattered, first in the Middle East and then throughout the world. Wherever she found roots, the Armenian Church was welcomed and brought with her, her language, her liturgy, her faith, her traditions and her culture.

In 2001, we celebrated 1700 years of the Baptism of Armenia, and Pope John Paul II beatified the Archbishop of Mardine, Ignace Maloyan, who was the head of his people when he gave his life to not deny his faith in Christ.

While this Synod is taking place, that is, 94 years after the killings, following the call by Christ to forgive one’s enemies, the leaders of the Armenian State as well as the Heads of the Armenian Churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical) committed an act of public pardon towards the Turks. We did that while appealing to the Turks to recognize the genocide, to give homage to the martyrs and to grant Armenians their civil, political and religious rights.

The path of reconciliation between the two states has been initiated.

For this, I appeal to the political leaders so that they may support our progress alongside the Turks, with the Universal Church and the African Church in distress.

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H. Exc. Mons. Denis WIEHE, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Port Victoria, President of the Episcopal Conference (C.E.D.O.I.) (SEYCHELLES)

The small islands of the Indian Ocean (Comores, Reunion, Mauritius, Rodriguez and Seychelles) for their geographical situation, their history, and especially their people, are very different from the large countries on the African continent, because they are tributaries not only of Africa but also of Asia and Europe. However, on a pastoral level we have several questions in common. This is the way it is for certain problems in the family.

The Christians who join on the Neo-Catechumenal Path are deeply transformed. I was the witness during one of my pastoral visits on one or another family, to the harmony in the relations between the couple and in the parent/children relationship, and also in regular and deep family prayer.

The CANA sessions organized by the Community of the New Path: about twenty couples participate each time and live together for a week; they are given this time to rediscover the true meaning of their life as a couple and as a family. At the same time, in another location, the children of these families take part in a similar formation, with a pedagogue for their age group. The last day of the session, parents and children find each other again for a family celebration with all the participants. After the session, the couples are invited to various activities among which is participation in the “Fraternities-Cana”.

The “Couples for Christ”, a lay community coming from the Philippines offers programs of formation not only for couples but also for young persons preparing for marriage, for adolescents and for children. The different programs they propose are animated by songs that are very pleasing to youth... and the less young.

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H. Exc. Mons. Ludwig SCHICK, Archbishop of Bamberg, President of the Commission "Weltkirche" of the German Episcopal Conference (GERMANY)

The partnerships among the churches of different continents are to be fostered. These partnerships should not be considered as one-way streets. They have to lead to an exchange of spiritual and also material gifts of the particular churches worldwide.

These partnerships have to be partnerships in prayer, in exchanging of experience and in solidarity. Partnership means mutual participation in the joys and sorrows of each other.

These partnerships strengthen the local churches in faith, hope and charity (cf. Rom 1:12). The partners can help each other with priests, members of religious orders, especially sisters, and experts in different areas.

Last but not least in our global world the partnerships among the churches of different continents are necessary in order to continue the dialogue with an unanimous voice with the governments and international political organizations. Only together the churches can be successful in resolving the big problems of fair trade, climate change, non-proliferation of arms, exploitation of natural resources, slave trade, migration problems, etc. The partnerships among particular churches worldwide promote the local churches to become better instruments for reconciliation, justice and peace in the world.