Interventions From Synod's 13th Congregation
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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given Tuesday morning at the 13th General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
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H. Exc. Mons. Ernesto MAGUENGUE, Bishop of Pemba (MOZAMBIQUE)
The main riches of the continent is represented by its population, and especially the youth, adolescents and children. Africa is a continent with the youngest population in the world.
African youth is an inestimable treasure that cannot be forgotten or lie unused, if one wishes to guarantee a future of lasting development, reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa.
Many young persons are led into violence, prostitution, drug trafficking and use, organized crime, political, ethnic and tribal strife, as well as into religious fundamentalism and satanic sects among others.
In the light of all these, we would like to suggest:
-- A strong message of trust and encouragement from the Synodal Assembly to youth, adolescents and children as the main players at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.
-- Denounce as one of the more obvious injustices emargination, manipulation, exploitation and violation of children’s rights.
-- The need for deeper studies on the question of African youth, using the humanistic sciences to see which are the most pressing problems and to find effective solutions to them.
-- Pastoral strategies of the church and government policies must be conceived keeping youth in mind, so that not only their material needs are satisfied, but also their spiritual ones.
-- The challenge to the Church, government and African society in general in finding ways to stimulate and take advantage of the vast potential which African youth represents.
-- I would like to underline the need for education and integral formation of youth that takes into consideration the context and their culture so as to make them able to be true servants of reconciliation, justice and peace.
-- Look over the contents and methods of catechesis, as well as the respective charisms, especially the catechumenate to include the social doctrine of the Church, a formation of critical consciousness, love of life, respecting and protecting nature.
-- The urgency of a pastoral for care, due to the fact that the majority of children and adolescents grew up in difficult environments characterized by destroyed families, hostilities, wars, violence and abuses of fundamental rights which have left deep wounds in the souls.
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H. Exc. Mons. Joachim KOURALEYO TAROUNGA, Bishop of Moundou (CHAD)
In my mother tongue, a proverb says: “To proclaim charity in words makes charity obsolete”. But another also says: “The benefactor who provides for the needy every day makes them lazy”. The challenges of reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa are immense and their responses complex and costly, as we have seen from the intervention by Mr Rodolphe ADADA on the subject of Darfur. The scope and the complexity of the dramas and tragedies in Africa require international solidarity. And it is already the case that the commitment of the Church in Africa in is essential in all domains, education, health, rural development, communication means, education to citizenship and the defense of fundamental human rights through the justice and peace commissions depend heavily upon aid from Churches in Europe and North America. In Chad, in these last years, this aid was drastically reduced and the wickedness of dependence became evident. To correct this evil, the remedy of mobilizing local resources was prescribed. But where do these local resources come from?
There is of course the contribution from the faithful, but this contribution is very modest, even insignificant in relation to the scope of their needs. To ensure the com plement without which no work can function, one turns to international organizations whose philosophy and objectives are not always compatible with our convictions. Thus, the Church in Africa resembles a single mother who must prostitute herself in order to feed, house, educate and care for her numerous children.
The Church in Africa must proclaim reconciliation, justice and peace. But she must do this through works. To realize these works, she needs means but should not be reduced to seeking out these means at just any price.
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H. Exc. Mons. Servilien NZAKAMWITA, Bishop of Byumba (RWANDA)
The Church in Rwanda, in her pastoral care of reconciliation, justice and peace following the unfortunate events of the Tutsi genocide and other war victims, after the challenges she encountered and partly overcame, is convinced that the work of reconciliation is God’s initiative. She is also convinced that God decided to collaborate with man to achieve this project of reconciliation. This conviction is due to the experiences and testimonies of reconciliation that we see every day throughout the country, in the Base Ecclesial Communities, in prisons, at prayer meetings for healing, etc.
At the time of the first Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the Church in Rwanda was absent for reasons you all know. The bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda delegated to the Synod were blocked by the beginning of the wide scale genocidal massacres on 7/4/1994. In three months more than one million innocent people were condemned to death, in front of the cameras of the International Community. The UN “MINUAR” forces who were there received the order to retreat, abandoning the population to the mercy of the killers armed with machetes, grenades, rifles and other weapons...
The day after this carnage, when the situation was controlled by the new authorities, the Catholic Church began the Pastoral Care of reconciliation.
There have been remarkable results and testimonies of vows, pardon and reconciliation. The civil authorities themselves adopted the “Gacaca” method to organize the popular courts on the hills, which allowed for accelerating the judgment of many prisoners. The Justice and Peace Commission in collaboration with other Commissions and other pastoral sectors, followed the process of reconciliation through various programs for education on the values and the formation of agents of reconciliation through the appropriate techniques.
In this pastoral care of reconciliation, the Catholic Church does not work in a closed atmosphere, she collaborates closely with other religious Conferences and with public and private institutions working on the theme of post-genocide reconciliation, especially the National Commission for unity and reconciliation, the National Commission for the fight against genocide and the National Commission for human rights, to mention just a few.
There are still cases of psychological traumas, physical and mental handicaps, suffering of all kinds. The wounds of the heart are healing with difficulty, the bases of families have shattered creating a difficult situation in managing orphans, widows and those without families. There are prisoners who are still waiting for justice to get out of the impasse, and among them there are surely some innocents.
We must also point out that in this work of reconciliation certain pastoral agents have still not reached internal freedom, which does not permit them to fulfill their mission as an actor of reconciliation. A program of training and for healing should be developed with the appropriate means.
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H. Exc. Mons. Abraham DESTA, Titular Bishop of Orrea di Aninico, Apostolic Vicar of Meki (ETHIOPIA)
Women are committed members of our Church. There is no doubt that their engagement to this point testifies to this fact. I believe that empowered by theological training, and training in Canon Law and the Social Doctrine of the Church they can play a better role beyond the traditional activities they have been engaged in as active and integral members of the Church.
Such training could deepen their understanding of their motherhood related values within the wider spectrum of salvation history. This could better inform and enrich their specific choices in the planning and implementation of strategic actions for reconciliation, justice and peace in the families, small Christian communities, parishes, dioceses and beyond.
Their formation in Theology, Canon Law and the Social Doctrine of the Church should empower them to play their specific and comparable role in designing appropriate and relevant catechetical and pastoral programmes, in collaboration with respective pastors and theologians, for children, the youth, women and family. It should enable them to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the matrix of relationships and roles within the hierarchy of the Church for appropriate collaborative ministry in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.
Moreover, their training in theological, canonical studies and the Social Doctrine of the Church should enable them to discover the sources and tools for designing relevant formation and advocacy programmes for reconciliation, justice and peace especially at the level of the family, small Christian communities, Christian women associations, youth and different associations of Christian professionals.
The primary role of the trained and theologically empowered women should become catalysts of change of the overall attitude regarding our mothers and sisters and build their capacity to play their God-given active role in participating in the leadership and decision making processes at all levels of Church and society to bring about real reconciliation through justice and peace in our African society. It is important to emphasize the fact that without the full participation of women in their various levels and capacity the work of reconciliation, justice and peace can never be complete and bring the desired fruits in our Church and the future society of Africa.
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Rev. F. Mamby Dominique BASSE, Sch. P., Superior Major of the Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools in Senegal (Scolopi) (UNION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL)
Lasting peace passes through education. This is a conviction shared by the consecrated persons whose charism is education for the youth.
Today this mission must be carried out in a context where the African lives in an economic, psychological and socio-political environment that is often difficult, and that nurtures in the young internal tensions that translate externally into behaviors that are completely contrary to the spirit of peace and reconciliation.
Today in Africa, the primordial challenge of our times is the persistence of the pre-eminence of the culture of violence in the world of youth and the stereotypes proposed to them by the media, politicians and all those who appear to have achieved “social success”.
Violence is also close to the young, because it is present in the continuous devastations of the conflict which destroys family life. Faced with all these forms of family violence, permissive silence and latent impunity are the best means to incite revolts.
Let us not forget that the poverty that strikes the young is a violence.
Looking at this situation, education for peace and reconciliation is an urgent necessity, everywhere where the consecrated work with youth. We the consecrated should propose what is best in contemporary society to the young.
Thus, we propose to the Synod:
-- That all ecclesiastical structures create a program for the management of conflicts by giving new force to the method of Catholic action (see think-act)
-- Create services of listening where the consecrated, trained in the techniques of active listening, are available to welcome the young who feel the need to confide.
-- Religious congregations in communion with the local Church should create structures whose objective is the smooth insertion into professional life for the young, as well as their access to work and to a decent income by articulating an appropriate professional formation, personalized following and the mobilization of the public, private and social actors involved.
-- Our teaching institutions should create a program of education on values based on our cultural values.
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H. Exc. Mons. Manuel António MENDES DOS SANTOS, C.M.F., Bishop of São Tomé e Príncipe (SÃO TOMÉ)
How to make the Word of God, known, loved and practiced in the Church?
-- In the first place, we need to create means that will allow all Christians to access the Holy Scriptures. For this, there is a need for “immense solidarity” which would lead to the substantial decrease in the price of Bibles.
-- We need to invest in the development of the Biblical pastoral.
-- Involve Christians to read the Holy Scriptures starting from Jesus Christ as the Center of Revelation in the responses and light which illuminates each page of the Holy Book.- Nurtured by the Word of God, our faithful can more easily resist the seductions by new religious groups, many of them using a fundamentalistic reading of the Bible to spread its ideas.
-- Starting from the faith in the Risen Jesus Christ, victorious over the Kingdom of evil, we can show the world paths of hope, peace, freedom; paths that lead to erasing ancestral fears, such as witchcraft that sowed much suffering among our peoples.
-- The Word of God, practiced and prayed, can undoubtedly help to build a family culture since it leads Christian to confront themselves with the Truth and the need for a conversion of life which allows them to live according to the Lord’s path.
-- The Word of God gives meaning to our fight against poverty; it nurtures our convictions that what we do for our brothers we do for Christ Himself.
-- The Word of God makes us instruments of reconciliation, justice, peace.
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H. Em. Card. William Joseph LEVADA, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (VATICAN CITY)
My remarks today are intended to provide information about and encouragement for the work of the Doctrinal Commissions of the respective Episcopal Conferences in Africa.
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H. Exc. Mons. Matthias N'GARTÉRI MAYADI, Archbishop of N'Djaména (CHAD)
The civil war started in Chad in 1965 under the regime of the first president who was a Christian Protestant, originally from the South, Francois Tombalbaye. From 1979 to our days, the fracture between North and South continued under the two following regimes of Hissein Habré and Idriss Deby Itno, Muslims from the North.
For the past 40 years there have been many attempts at reconciliation which haven’t come to anything and won’t be able to come to anything.
Culturally, the majority of ethnic groups in the North, traditionally warriors, consider reconciliation as an act of weakness. Thus, there can be no reconciliation between the Gorangnes (Hissein’s ethnic group) and the Zaghawa (Idriss Deby Itno’s ethnic group).
The next reconciliations of power between the different rebellions were achieved using money. This becomes the only mover of reconciliation and the rebellion ends up becoming commerce: we rebel and then we reconcile to make some money for our family, to reach posts of responsibility in the government and to have more weapons.
The war and misery in the majority of the populations in Chad remain major difficulties and challenges for us. Moreover, the situation worsens with the arrival of the Sudanese and Central African refugees or the displaced persons from Chad to our territory. We expect much from this Synod and from the Universal Church.
Perhaps an agreement between Chad and the Holy See could help more in reinforcing the authority of the Church in Chad in its commitment for reconciliation, justice and peace and against what the Holy Father qualifies as a “virus”, that is the religious fundamentalism that threatens the health of Africa in general and Chad especially.
In 2008, we had the beginning of a Jihad unleashed in Kouno, a city in the south of the Archdiocese of N’Djamena, “located about 150km from Sarh”. Let me remind you, some fundamentalists from Chad were cited as being involved in the Jihad that recently took place in the north of Nigeria in September 2009.
According to our constitution, Chad is a lay state, and this has helped us, as a Church, to live and pursue freely our activities, but until when? This laity is threatened and if Chad topples into an Islamic regime, all of Central Africa would suffer the consequences.
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H. Exc. Mons. Alick BANDA, Bishop of Solwezi (ZAMBIA)
The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission.
An effective participation and collaboration of the laity in working for reconciliation, justice and peace depends not only on a well informed laity but also on a well catechized laity. Therefore this will require a lifelong commitment and investment by the Church in the continuous formation of the laity so that they may become credible both in private and public life and be able to be "salt of the earth and light of the world" (cf. Mt 5:13-14; and "Ad Gentis Divinitus", Nr. 11). From the above, I wish to call for the following:
Firstly, I recommend that a clear and strong call be re-echoed for an effective involvement of the laity in the working for evangelization vis-à-vis reconciliation, justice and peace through their varied contacts, associations and movements.
Secondly, I recommend that every Diocese be required to have in place an effective and responsible Council of the Laity to be the leader of involvement of the laity, so that the laity feel fully recognized and accepted along with clergy and religious in the task of evangelization.
Thirdly, I recommend that each Diocese make a strong investment in the training of the laity, especially with a "new catechesis" in the Social Teachings of the Church.
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H. Exc. Mons. John Baptist ODAMA, Archbishop of Gulu (UGANDA)
I speak to you especially from the personal experience of great violence done to children in my Archdiocese. This is the violence perpetrated by soldiers of the rebel forces of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), who the past several years have terrorized the people and particularly targeted children.
The LRA forces have taken young boys and girls to force them to become child soldiers, damaging their minds and spirits in terrible ways. And the LRA forces have abducted young girls as sex slaves, ruining their hopes and futures.
We know that there are such terrible instances of violence against children, young women and men, in other parts of Africa today where senseless wars and conflicts rage on, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), southern Sudan, Central Africa, for example.
But there is another more widespread violence that goes on every day throughout the Continent. This is the violence of hunger, lack of educational opportunities, shortage of adequate health ftlinecare, and unfit living conditions in urban slums and refugee camps.
Surely our Synod must speak out against the political, economic and social situations that do such violence to our children.
But let me add yet another way in which violence is done to children, and this is the shocking rates of abortion that take away the lives of innocents even before birth. A culture of abortion, a dynamic of lack of respect for the unborn, a promotion of "rights" that even allows for this denial of the right to life, is but another sign of violence against life.
What can we do to stem the rise of this violence?
I want to suggest two strong steps.The first is to pledge ourselves as Church in Africa to stand up for the "consistent ethic" for respect for life.
In our work for development, for reconciliation, for justice and peace, we are bringing the values of a respect for life which is both strong counter-witness to violence and vigourous endorsement of the conditions necessary for life
-- family love, food, education, health care, jobs, housing, etc.
The second is to give witness especially to the rights of women in their God-given dignity. I say this because there is around us now many who speak of the rights of women in ways that would violate the rights of others - especially the rights of unborn children. We as Catholic Church must be known as strong defenders of the rights of women - to experience their God-given equality, to exercise their many gifts for the good of our communities, to contribute fully the Church's mission of sharing the Good News.
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H. Exc. Mons. Martin MUSONDE KIVUVA, Bishop of Machakos (KENYA)
Impoverishment comes as a result of a lack of inadequate basic needs that are: food, health services, medication facilities, education or insufficient knowledge and peace.
The outcome of this leads to high levels of ignorance, poor health, ecological problems such as destruction of forests for charcoal and settlement; mining activities, un-planned urban settlements putting pressure on the available infrastructure such as water, sewerage, road network and bad agricultural practices, that are incompatible with ecology.
There is need to examine the gaps in our policy process in order to mitigate chronic poverty manifested in, disease, food insecurity, crime, lack of clean water. Ensuring that most of Kenya's poor are able to be assured of the social security will require an integrated partnership between the church, government, local and international Partners. All players who are entrusted with protection of people's welfare must be competent, accountable, accessible and responsive to the situation of vulnerable groups in order to achieve the desired holistic human development.
Today, our people on the continent cannot meet their basic needs. We are talking of millions lacking access to safe drinking water, food, decent shelter; we are seeing resurgence of diseases like polio that ought to have been eradicated, we are seeing coffee and tea farmers impoverished because of poor returns; and we have seen unemployment rates rising. This bring rise to the many young people who are at the mercy of the powerful elite who conscript them to drugs and terror gangs for protection.
I propose that as Church leaders we have to set the example that hard work pays by putting in place policies that reward good work. We have to discourage the culture of handouts and plant honesty and responsibility among our young people.
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H. Exc. Mons. Jean Claude RANDRIANARISOA, Bishop of Miarinarivo (MADAGASCAR)
The Instrumentum laboris talks about youth by building or by consolidating structures for their formation; to nominate chaplains for their apostolate and coordinate their participation in the life of the Church on the national as well as the international level.
We thank the Servant of God Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for their solicitude in favor of youth, who are considerable witnesses of reconciliation that overcomes the boundaries of continents, race and cultures. This is manifested during the World Youth Days. This experience as universal Church stimulates the fervor of our young persons to continue this, despite the various socio-political tensions in our country. In Madagascar, following the recommendations in the Post-Synodal Exhortation to build and consolidate the structures for the Pastoral for the Youth, the Conference of Bishops of Madagascar calls the Catholic youths of our country every three years.
Through this experience, we see that our young persons could become one of the best agents of reconciliation, if they are trained and helped by their pastors and their elders by a witness of authentic Christian life to study their faith through a catechesis based on the Word of God; to live their faith through Prayer and the Celebration of the sacraments especially the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation: it is gratifying to see the young persons approaching this sacrament during a whole night in front of the Holy Sacrament in the open air. They are very quick to find themselves together, to share their deep aspirations amongst themselves, to pray together, to study their faith to find and bear witness in turn to their human and evangelical values.
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H. Exc. Mons. Edward Tamba CHARLES, Archbishop of Freetown and Bo (SIERRA LEONE)
The multinational extractives are causing so much injustice in Africa that the Church can no longer remain silent about them. In their desire to exploit the continent's rich natural and mineral resources, these companies can do anything, including the fomenting of inter-ethnic conflicts, sale arms and ammunition, and the overthrow of legitimate governments. The oil-rich Delta States in Nigeria and the eastern and southern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo are clear examples of this.
Confronted by such hostile forces, many local Churches cannot do much to ensure that the companies accept their co-operate responsibility. Therefore I am appealing that local Churches and Episcopal Conferences of the affected regions intervene to ensure that just mining policies are established to ensure that African States and their populations benefit from their natural and mineral resources. I am also appealing to local Churches of countries from which those multinationals come to intervene on behalf of Africa and its people. Those companies may be bringing home cheap oil and cheap tropical hard wood, but they are causing untold sufferings for our people in Africa. In the name of God and of our ecclesial communion, we appeal to you to help us to stop their injustices against our people.
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H. Exc. Mons. Zygmunt ZIMOWSKI, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Radom, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care (VATICAN CITY)
1. Despite the fact that, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI affirmed in the homily at the opening Mass of the Synod: “God is the Creator and the source of life,” life today is severely tested as a value by reproductive health policies. Consequently the bishops and local Churches are invited to let the Church’s voice be heard on the subject of life from its start to its natural conclusion.
2. Many religions cohabit in Africa, from traditional African religions to the great monotheistic religions, and they all have an influence on African cultures. In the last few decades, the joint efforts of the various religious confessions to face up to a number of great health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, bear witness to the ecumenism of these works that are particularly fruitful in the health field.
3. By their very nature as works of the Church, the health institutions are involved in promoting health through the respect for the right to its defense, a guarantee of justice and fairness in access to health treatment especially for HIV/AIDS patients.
4. While maintaining a safe distance from false and illusory healing practices, the Church in Africa is called on to rediscover its own rich spiritual, doctrinal and sacramental inheritance in spiritual healing which is based on prayer and the sacraments.
5. Traditional medicine is an important patrimony of the African cultures. It has lower costs than modern medicine and being close to the people it is often used. The bishops should be asked to distinguish between good and bad practices and to encourage scientific study of traditional medicine within Catholic institutions.
6. Many of the health services of the Church in Africa are recognized and used for their importance, but they suffer the ideological pressures of globalization and secularization with the evident drop in financial aid that places them at risk of failure.
7. The Holy Father Benedict XVI sums up the specificity of the service the Church offers in these terms: “The health of the human being, of the whole human being, was the sign chosen by Christ to manifest God's closeness, his merciful love, which heals the mind, the soul and the body.” This always has to be the fundamental reference for every initiative of the Church in following Christ whom the Gospels introduce to us as a divine “doctor”. (Benedict XVI, Address to the participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, 2007)
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Rev. F. Jan GEERITS, S.D.S., Apostolic Administrator of Apostolic Administration of Comoros
It’s true there are barriers and limitations in the work of evangelization in the Comores, however, I would like to share with you in 5 points, the main lines upon which our mission is based by showing at the same time the wealth and flavor of this mission, and concluding with a request.
1. By dressing modestly and by accepting being deprived of privileges and successes which at times are given by the traditional Catholic environment, the missionary in the Comores learns that ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who achieves and builds the Kingdom of God, even where where it would seem pointless or impossible according to human logic.
2. By nourishing oneself with prayer, with the Eucharist and the grace of God which is manifested in the daily life in the Comores, the missionary participates in this joy that our Shepherd Jesus promised his apostles.
3. Seeing as we are a minority, the danger is real, that our small Catholic communities close up and get discouraged. Nevertheless, the smallness of our Catholic communities spurs us to wholly invest in the mission of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
4. Not being allowed to evangelize with the mouth and the word, nothing stops us from speaking with our hands, that is: serving the population in all humility through works of charity.
5. Each man is unique and has the ability to choose freely to be (or not to be) the image of his Creator. God constantly invites us and proposes saying yes with a patience that is beyond us, without ever obligating or forcing His creature, cf the good thief on the cross who said yes at the last moment. Thus, it is an injustice to obligate one’s fellow man to being a Muslim and to exclude salvation a priori to all those who do not follow Islam. This injustice can never lead to reconciliation and profound peace with Muslims and must be recognized one day as an intellectual and professional error by their leaders as well as by the simple faithful, so that this separating wall may fall finally like others fell in the past.
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H. Exc. Mons. Liborius Ndumbukuti NASHENDA, O.M.I., Archbishop of Windhoek, President of the Episcopal Conference (NAMIBIA)
Namibia is basically enjoying political and economic stability, but the Church is nevertheless called upon to be a vigilant and prophetic watchdog with regard to the issues of reconciliation, justice and peace. After the war, which ended in 1989 and consequently followed by the United Nations supervised election, we have observed three movements:
1. Insufficient platform was provided for the former warring party to share their wounds and thus to speed up the healing process within.
2. Justice was sought in fair distribution of available resources, but now we see a big gap growing between the rich and the poor.
3. Peace has been flourishing among different peoples in the country.
We have tried to embark upon two projects which I would like share with you:
1. We have called upon the clergy, religious and faithful to encourage both the faithful ¡and people of good will; to exercise their democratic right to vote in order to elect as their future leaders those who will be good servants and stewards and who will focus in their administration on delivery of quality services and fight against all forms of corruption, through the existing Anti-Corruption Commission.
We have been meeting with all political parties to call upon them to uphold the principle of democracy in their campaigning in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect in order to maintain our hard won peace, which is an expensive commodity, while affirming the fact that, in any race, there is always a winner and a loser, and that the latter should accept the result with dignity and humility. African leaders should therefore learn to relinquish power gracefully.
2. Special ministry to sex-workers - prostitution - for which we have a priest with this charism. In many situations, these sex-workers, or who 80% are injected by the HIV/AIDS virus are forced to this life-style by poverty and are sexually abused by well-salaried people.
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H. Exc. Mons. Filomeno DO NASCIMENTO VIEIRA DIAS, Bishop of Cabinda (ANGOLA)
When the first Synodal Assembly took place in 1994, my country was still a nation at war. In that moment, our Episcopal Conference, though misunderstood by some, appealed with determination for peace and reconciliation among brothers in conflict, through a number of pastoral letters. In this long process, we emphasized the service of the Bishops of the region (IMBISA), who moved to Angola specifically to help the process. Internally, the Episcopal Conference launched a movement, still active today, for peace, “Pro Pace”, whose vocation is the promotion of peace, disarming consciences, and forming peace makers.
The action of this movement was felt all over the country. Together with other Christian institutions, the Committee of Inter-Ecclesial for the Peace in Angola (COIEPA) was created, having the same aim. Therefore, on many occasions, Churches and Christian Communities in Angola could speak as one to the Nation and to the world about the drama of war and the urgency of peace.
Today, having attained peace, the great challenge is that of national reconciliation which we cannot identify or summarize with the end of the war, the period of validity of the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation, emerging from the agreements made in Lusaka and the actuation, a year ago, of legislative elections. These are stages of a process which, by themselves, cannot realize reconciliation. Reconciliation contains other dimensions and they should be pursued with the same audacity: psychological and cultural, economic and political, social and religious. Yes, these are aspects that cannot be ignored if we do not want to deceive ourselves and postpone or prepare future conflicts.
Therefore, we consider it our duty as Church to continue to encourage, support and work with the other players in public life for a genuine state of law, by means of the necessary strengthening of democratic institutions, the promoting of good governance, struggling against inequality between citizens and between regions, the free functioning of institutions of the administration of justice, and for a better distribution of state revenues.
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H. Exc. Mons. Joseph Shipandeni SHIKONGO, O.M.I., Titular Bishop of Capra, Apostolic Vicar of Rundu (NAMIBIA)
In Namibia, the first problem is somehow solved by government subsidies. So our health and educational institutions are highly subsidized by the government. For this reason particularly in the rural areas the poor receive medical care without paying much. In order to ensure regular government subsidy and the autonomy of the church to manage health institutions according to church ethical standards we entered into a comprehensive agreement with the government in 1994, which was revised and improved in 2008. The implementation of this agreement is not as successful as we expected. Some clauses are not yet implemented. We have also an extensive HIV/AIDS program.
But the government program is stronger with more financial resources, expatriate expert advisors, and using national communication media: TV, radio and newspapers. So they have more influence than us. Thus secular and relativistic views of sexuality are propagated. For them the most predominant concern is to prevent infection; and the most important practical means is the condom; so unrealistic belief in condom effectiveness is promoted. The failures of this means is deliberately ignored or explained in dubious ways. In this way, promiscuity is actually encouraged which leads to more infections. The other issue which I would like to mention is what I read in the report of WHO, about the business sales of medicines. It says the curative effectiveness of some of these medicines is not proved but being sold in Africa for experiment. The dosage of some is dangerous or not what is actually indicated on the container or they are completely faked.
There are other medicines that are not approved in countries where they are manufactured but they are sold in Africa (e.g. Depo Provesa). It is said that Africa is most exposed to these kinds of medicines because of the limited capacity to investigate, test or monitor as to what is happening. In this regard the church should also urge the government that traditional healers must be held accountable for their activities and should fully disclose their treatment procedures and medicines.
Concerning our schools we also receive government subsidies but so far we have not reached an agreement but are still negotiating. Our schools have made great contribution to education acknowledged even by the government. In the last 3 consecutive years our two secondary schools have produced best results of the final national exams. We aim at having schools of excellence where gifted children can be helped to excel through quality education. In this connection on a personal note: I had school mates who were highly gifted but who dropped out of school because of poverty, lack of motivation or some other reason. Africa cannot afford to lose the potentially excellent scientists and artists.
For the church to continue its involvement in health and education provision, financial resources will always be needed. Finding effective and efficient ways of securing these resources is very important.
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Rev. F. Zeferino ZECA MARTINS, S.V.D., Provincial of Angola of Society of the Divine Word (ANGOLA)
The Episcopal Conference of Angola and of São Tomé led together with the Commission of Justice and Peace, Ecclesia Radio, the Catholic radio station of Angola and the Catholic University, its mission of mother and educator, mediator and conciliator. They elaborated programs of civic education, realized in “Pro Pace” meetings.
The addressees were civil societies, political actors, persons of other religious groups and all people of good will. It was in the truth, a privileged moment, an authentic forge of dialogue; the seed of reconciliation was sewn among the marginalized brothers. As a result, the electoral process unfolded in an environment of tolerance and peace.
I propose that each Episcopal Conference of the African countries together with their respective Commissions of Justice and Peace and other institutions, elaborate a “Pro Pace” program at the level of Archdioceses and Dioceses and that it be implemented in the period that precedes the elections. I also wish to refer to the Chinese workers who can be find around all over Africa. Certainly for the Chinese State they are workers who are sent outside the borders to increase their hegemony in a worldwide economic panorama. For our states, they are no more than the manpower required for a speedy reconstruction of infrastructures destroyed during the war.
I therefore propose that the Episcopal Conferences together with Dioceses where a pastoral for migrants is needed elaborate a pastoral program for bringing the Gospel of Christ to Chinese workers in the African countries.
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H. Exc. Mons. José Câmnate NA BISSIGN, Bishop of Bissau (GUINEA-BISSAU)
Attempting to respond to the current challenges, at the first stage there were some rapid initiatives of mediation to decide with relation to this or that crisis. Currently, given the ongoing governmental instability and other fragilities, we were obliged to develop a commission for justice and peace, with the mission not only to sensitize and form the Christian community but also to create spaces for dialogue and opportunities for collaboration with various religious leaders, with the Foundation (being formed) the Voice of Peace, civil society, political classes, military, women’s and youth associations.
In this effort to form consciences with regard to changing the mentality and behavior, from which a culture of peace may develop, Radio Sol Mansi (ecclesial radio) is carrying out a very important role in the spreading of the Gospel message and the social doctrine of the Church. The quality of the programs aired gain this young radio station credibility and affection from both the local population and international community, particularly at the time the last elections were conducted in the country.
Another initiative to be mentioned is an agreement established between Radio Sol Mansi and a Muslim community radio station.
The faith in God Creator and Peace for all mankind is a “spiritual and cultural” wealth common to all ethnic groups of the Guinea-Bissau. This common “patrimony” is facilitating cooperation and dialogue among followers of different faith (RTA, Muslims, Protestants, and Catholics).
The construction of peace is a task which approaches the religious confessions in the same impulse of protecting the higher interest of the nation. After various initiatives, taken informally and ad hoc, the major religious organizations of the country will decide to officilize their cooperation in the heart of the Council for ecumenical inter-religious dialogue, and for the promotion of human dignity.
It is about a space for dialogue and compromise between traditional responsible religious people and on the big matters of the nation. This NGO for the promotion of opinions and of human beings, has as its vocation to place itself in an independent way to face national problems and to act as an active conscience in view of the peace consolidation.
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H. Exc. Mons. Camillus Archibong ETOKUDOH, Bishop of Port Harcourt (NIGERIA)
Among some African cultural values that are compatible with the Gospel message are:
The sense of sacredness of life.
Respect and care for elders.
Solidarity and peaceful co-existence.
On the other hand, some cultural practices which are not compatible with the Gospel message to include the pouring of libation, ancestral worships, sacrifices offered to idols and deities during traditional festivals, taking of chieftaincy titles, traditional marriages and burials.
These cultural practices constitutes obstacles and challenges to the evangelization mission of the church in Africa in service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.
Unfortunately, as indicated in the Instrumentum Laboris (Art 95), the church suffers from some clergy and consecrated men and women and the lay faithful who sometimes give bad examples by their involvement in occult practices.
My appeal to the synod fathers is to look into formation of seminarians and priests and consecrated men and women as well as the lay faithful towards the right use of sacramentals and the reception of sacraments.
In our rural Diocese of Ikot Ekpena in Nigeria, it has become a custom to start the new year with Mass during which the message of the Holy Father for the World Peace is read. At the end, all traditional rulers and their families are blessed. In order to minister to non-Catholic traditional rulers, priests and catechists who receive invitations to traditional festivals and burials are encouraged to take these invitations up, and use them as means of evangelization. Through this initiative, some followers of African Traditional Religion have been converted to the Catholic faith.
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H. Exc. Mons. Germano GRACHANE, C.M., Bishop of Nacala (MOZAMBIQUE)
The “implantatio Ecclesiae et Imperii, versus implantatio fidei” was the path, the method which brought the Gospel to Mozambique in the XV and XVI centuries, as well as to the greater part of Africa, America, the Far East (Asia) and Oceania.
This method, from the Constantine and pre-Constantine period, returned and reinforced by the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, decreased the divisions between the Christian communities of the catacombs and the pagan world of that era, and constitutes today one of the remote but fundamental causes of a structural and basic shortage or rupture in the building of the Church in Africa, a structural and basic shortage or rupture which is incoherency or the deep abyss between faith and the witness of life, between African Christian faith and their culture, between faith and moral commitment, between the Christian faith of African parliamentarians and their political involvement according to the Gospel: the existing discordant separation or hiatus, and finally between faith proclaimed with the lips in the formulation of the Creed in Sunday Mass and the daily style of life and of culture in employment, politics, economy, culture, family and societies within and without our cathedrals, parish churches, chapels and African communities, as in all of today’s modern world.
I have taken the liberty to propose to this August Synod Assembly that it directly and explicitly mention the importance, the need and the opportunity of the old catechumenal method and institute, also recommended and renewed by Vatican Council II, as the effective instrument to rebuild our young African missionary churches.
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H. Exc. Mons. Basile MVÉ ENGONE, S.D.B., Archbishop of Libreville (GABON)
Reconciliation remains a divine mystery. Nevertheless, the Church has the duty to trace the way and live it herself by first resolving her own contradictions, before preaching to others. The more believable she is, the more she will know how to create spaces of truth, justice and peace. For this, it is urgent to reinforce effective communion and collaboration of the pastors between themselves and with the faithful, to guarantee transparency and the responsible management of the Church’s goods, to ensure equanimity between the different members of the ecclesial community.
Reconciliation is at the same time a process and an objective to reach. Here are some propositions to achieve this:
1. Shed light on the scriptural aspect of reconciliation, justice and peace;
2. Develop the sacrament of individual and community reconciliation;
3. Encourage fundamental retreats for the laity;
4. Reinforce the pastoral for the family and youths;
5. Follow more attentively the persons involved with the running of government on a daily basis;
6. Create chaplains for the Senate and the National Assembly;
7. Organize the permanent formation of priests and laity on reconciliation, justice and peace;
8. Finally, urge for spaces where priests can listen, meet and share their human, pastoral and spiritual experiences.
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H. Exc. Mons. Odon Marie Arsène RAZANAKOLONA, Archbishop of Tananarive (MADAGASCAR)
During recent events that have made Madagascar known on the world level, and where we must deplore the deaths of men and considerable material damage, we turned to the Council of Christian Churches, known under the acronym FFKM (bringing together the Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican churches); it should be noted that during the cycle of troubles that had shaken the large island since 1980, the FFKM was the means to emerge from the crisis, which ended with the signing of a convention between the factions in conflict. Then came the elections.
How was the FFKM called upon as mediator?
Let us note, first of all that the conference of bishops of Madagascar never stopped pushing the alarm button to attract the attention of those in power. In effect, the majority is impoverished more and more while a minority gets richer; a dictatorial derivative was present after the adoption of a constitution made to measure for the president, the sale of land to foreign companies, not to mention electoral fraud...
The religious leaders and worthies made a plea for calm, for its part the conference of bishops of Madagascar created a crisis group to follow the evolution of events. And it was able to get representatives from the two factions round a table on February 6th 2009.
I would like to draw some lessons from this experience of mediation:
1. We cannot mediate without preliminary formation, otherwise it is guaranteed to fail.
2. Mediators need to stay united if they wish to do their job properly.
3. In these negotiations, where neither goodwill nor sincerity are ever much in evidence at the meeting and might lead to discouragement, but one must not leave the negotiating table.
4. The solidarity of the conference of bishops of Madagascar was also an intense witness in the middle of a crisis and this is its strength.
5. Unfortunately the FFKM came out of this experience wounded and weakened. However what gives hope is the holding of work groups of formation on ecumenism throughout the island. They were funded by the Ecumenical Council of Churches of Geneva.
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H. Exc. Mons. Daniel Marco Kur ADWOK, Titular Bishop of Mossori, Auxiliary Bishop of eKhartoum (SUDAN)
As part of their pastoral commitment in the search for peace, the Bishops of the Sudan did put before themselves and their faithful a vision of Sudan which is more human, in which people can live in harmony and where there will be no more: war, oppression, violence, tribal/ethnic hatred, injustice, violation of human rights and discrimination because of religion.
The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the North and South Sudan on the 9th January 2005 marked a turning point in the history of this tormented country. The agreement so far is the best of all agreements made between the parties in conflict since the independence of the Sudan in 1956. For most part the agreement echoes the concerns raised and proposed by the Bishops mentioned above, a vision of Sudan where all are treated equal regardless of colour, race or creed.
Given the political crisis in the country at present, Sudan has few options left to choose from:
-- Either a break-up of the whole country into several states, because of the insistence on the brand of unity that hardly acknowledges any other religion but Islam or any other culture but only the Arab culture and the denial of access to political, economic and civil rights. This form of unity will always embroil the country into endless conflicts.
-- If the unity of the country is a better option then the Government has to sincerely reform its political strategy by adapting a secular constitution and system of governance for state so as to allow every citizen to feel a sense of belonging without any prejudice. This attempt will not only release the tension among non-Muslims but will also bring in the other regions like Darfur, southern Kordofan and southern Blue Nile. These three regions are predominantly Muslim but feel excluded like the Christians of the South from the type of union the Government in Khartoum tries to forge. This option has been on for 55 years.
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H. Exc. Mons. Felix Alaba Adeosin JOB, Archbishop of Ibadan, President of the Episcopal Conference (NIGERIA)
It is right that we call on our national leaders and international organizations to save Africa for posterity. It is however my strongly considered view that this Second Special Synod should show very serious concern for the FUTURE OF THE FAITH AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE IN THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA and adjacent Islands. As rightly pointed out by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson in the Relatio mentioned above, and I quote, "the talk about a thriving Church in Africa [today] conceals the fact that the Church hardly exists in large parts north of the Equator. The exceptionally growing Church in Africa is to be found generally SOUTH OF THE SAHARA." Yet the north is the land of many great saints and martyrs; the refuge for the Holy Family. The land that nurtured the Infant Jesus is now almost without the presence of the Church founded by Christ!! The same may happen to the now flourishing Church, South of the Sahara, if we do not make deepening the faith THE PASTORAL PRIORITY of this Second Synod. "To be forewarned is to be forearmed."
Several Synod Fathers have told us of current dangers to our faith. Apart from the Socio-political, weak democracies, corruption and many other maladies, we have also been informed of the strategies of pentencostalist movements against the traditional Christian Churches. We know these attacks break down and capture our most vulnerable members - youths and young adults. It is from these youths our clergy and consecrated persons come. It is they who would be the future fathers and mothers, the politicians and professionals of our nations. But alas, many of them are very shallow in their faith and lack doctrinal development.
The Church, Family of God on mission in Africa, through this Special Synod must provide ways and means to PASS ON THE FAITH with IMPROVED CATECHESIS, with sound Scriptural and DOCTRINAL FORMATION. This is urgent so that the Church, South of the Equator might not in a few years' time become like its counterpart NORTH of the Equator.
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H. Exc. Mons. Gerard Tlali LEROTHOLI, O.MI., Archbishop of Maseru (LESOTHO)
The Catholic Church in Lesotho is blessed with vocations for the priesthood and consecrated life. We are also happy to announce the Church is a Mission Church which is becoming missionary. She has started sending out some of her sons and daughters to other countries and continents. e.g, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Paraguay, Haiti, France, most of these groups mentioned above are Women religious.
It is in the sphere of socio politics that Lesotho needs most help in means of reconciliation, justice and peace. The theme of reconciliation, justice and peace is pertinent and relevant, but, it is also necessary and urgent for Lesotho.
Lesotho is one of young emerging democracies on the continent. Ever since its independence in 1966, it has experienced moments of political turmoil and bitter conflicts, which sometimes resulted in coup d'etat and blood shed, as it was in 1970, 1986,1994 and 1998.
Lesotho suffers from two major ills, namely, political and denominational divides. The two have been become so intertwined that is almost impossible to differentiate one from the other. From the first general elections of 1966, Lesotho has developed what I could call a "culture" of "post-election conflict".
The electoral process usually runs smoothly until election time. The acceptance of the electoral results is always a cause of dispute with violent manifestations or dissatisfaction by the parties which have lost. In other words, there is neither victory in honour nor defeat in grace. This makes the whole political period after elections a turbulent time of tensions, rivalry, and incessant accusations and one of the causes of this problems is lack of strategies in methods of voting.
Such a political tension fueled by denominational intolerance aggravates the situation. Whenever there is such an impasse, the Lesotho Christian Council of Churches is asked to mediate. It is often the Catholic Church which plays the most important part in resolving conflict in Lesotho. The theme of the Synod will be of great benefit for the Church in Lesotho, which is constantly involved in mediation efforts to bring about reconciliation, peace and justice in that beloved Country.