Pope Urges World to Help Africa Achieve Peace

In a Letter to a Symposium Organized by Council for Justice and Peace

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Citing Africa's "urgent need for peace, justice and reconciliation," John Paul II appealed to the international community and Catholics worldwide to help the continent reach these goals.



The Pope made this appeal in a message sent to the participants in the symposium on "The Social and Economic Development of Africa in the Era of Globalization," held Friday at the headquarters of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome.

Among those attending the symposium were the president of the dicastery, Cardinal Renato Martino; the Vatican secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo; African cardinals; ambassadors from the continent to the Holy See; and experts and representatives of international organizations, including the United Nations.

"The many areas of violence that bloody Africa, AIDS and other pandemics, as well as the tragedies of misery and injustices continue to weigh on the future of the continent," the Pope said in his message.

They produce "negative effects that mortgage the solidaristic development of Africa and the lasting stabilization of peace and of a just and equitable society," he said.

"The continent has an urgent need for peace, justice and reconciliation, in addition to the assistance of industrialized countries, called to sustain its development so that the peoples of Africa are really the protagonists of their future, the actors and subjects of their destiny," the Holy Father continued.

To achieve these objectives, "it is important to prepare, in their future responsibilities, the young generations that tomorrow will be responsible for the different foundations of society," he said.

"May the international community be able to contribute, with determination and generosity, to promote a society of justice and peace in the African continent," the Pontiff exhorted in his message, reported by the Missionary Service News Agency.

Lastly, the Holy Father invited Catholic communities worldwide "to support their brothers of Africa, so that they can have a more human and fraternal life."

When opening the symposium's working sessions, Cardinal Martino stressed that to "give Africa a future of hope" is "a moral imperative" for all.

Africa must "overcome one of the most dramatic stages of his history, characterized by armed confrontations that have decimated its population, by an uncertain democracy and devastating corruption, by ethnic conflicts that grip it and by terrible sicknesses that convulse it," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said.

The greatest evil in Africa, however, "is the almost general sense of resignation and mistrust that is manifested at all levels, encircling the country like an iron curtain made of egoism and indifference," Cardinal Martino said.

"For the people of our time," he said, "Africa with its imponderable burden of suffering and of hope, represents an historic moment of assumption of responsibility."

"God willing, may no one elude this critical appointment with history. Africa certainly has problems, but it must not be considered as a problem but as an opportunity for peace and well-being for the whole world," the cardinal said. "To give a future of hope to Africa means to give a future of hope and civilization to the whole world."