VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here are the English-language summaries provided by the Vatican press office of the interventions given Saturday at the Tenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
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H. Exc. Mons. Almachius Vincent RWEYONGEZA, Bishop of Kayanga (TANZANIA)
Evangelization of the family involves taking the family seriously as the “domestic church” where encounter with Christ is on a constant daily basis. The family is a vehicle by which the Catholic faith is nurtured through reading and meditating on the Word of God, praying together, receiving and celebrating the sacraments of life. Unity of the family is cemented and safeguarded by sharing common spiritual values and exercises.
Here are some of the key reasons for revisiting the catechesis and practice of contracting of mixed marriages within the set ups of the local church in Africa:
First, mixed marriages have been a source of fuelling misunderstandings between Catholic priests and pastors of the various Christian communities. Besides the persistent problem of insufficient knowledge of the obligations of the Catholic partner, arguments about where the Sacrament has to be celebrated create early backgrounds of division with regards to practicing of one’s faith.
Second, in most of these marriages, parents get divided as to in which faith the children should be baptized and raised.
Third, there has been a growing tendency that parents in most mixed marriages lack a common tradition of imparting Christian values. Disunity that evolves from differences in prayer life ends up affecting love, justice, reconciliation and peace within the family.
As we seek ways of building reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa by rightly defining the family as the most complete primary agent of justice, reconciliation, solidarity and peace, it is important not to underestimated the issue of mixed marriages. Unless efforts are made to revisit the contracting of mixed marriages, there is a risk of continuing to experience the tragedy of Christian disunity even at the heart of the family.
Differences with regards to values of faith including the meaning of marriage can become sources of fuelling tensions and confusing the education of children. This has been at the heart of increased religious indifference (CCC, No. 1634). Mixed marriages can easily be like building faith on sand whereby it will be hard to produce fruits of love, reconciliation, justice and peace. It is high time that the position of the Church on contracting mixed marriages be revisited and that Catechesis on mixed marriages be refocused. Unless bold steps are taken to safeguard the family, efforts of promoting reconciliation, justice and peace will remain inadequate.
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H. Exc. Mons. Fridolin AMBONGO BESUNGU, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Bokungu-Ikela (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)
The exploitation of natural resources is one of the conditions for lasting peace in RDC. In fact, the repeated wars we have lived through revealed that the natural resources that make the RDC a â€œgeological scandalâ€ is at the same time a good, that is an important economic asset for the countryâ€™s recovery and an evil, that is a permanent source of coveting, conflicts, corruption of an international mafia with some Congolese accomplices. The main causes of these economic wars which unbalance the principle of a peopleâ€™s sovereignty over their resources are: the lack of an international juridical framework that might restrict multinationals and trans-national extracting industries; the militarization of the mining sector; the increase in demand for certain now strategic minerals; the subordination of international interests of the Great Powers; the lack of respect for the dignity of the Congolese people whose riches we do not appreciate; the wish to balkanize the RDC for the benefit of the easily manipulated dwarf states, etc… The CENCO intervenes in three main domains. The CENCO created an Episcopal Conference ad hoc for natural resources, entrusted with the task of following the question of the exploitation of resources closely. With regard to education, the CENCO published a vademecum for the citizen on the management of natural resources. This document places man at the center of the exploitation of natural resources; it helps citizens to organize themselves at the base to reclaim the respect of social responsibilities of companies from the multinationals; to ensure human and community rights are respected. Given the international dimension of the problem of exploitation of resources, the CENCO waits for its sister Churches to raise their voices, in solidarity with the people who have suffered so much, so that the management of these resources with respect to the law may become an occasion for fraternity and development.
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H. Exc. Mons. Zacchaeus OKOTH, Archbishop of Kisumu (KENYA)
Healing and Reconciliation are God-driven, without the Gospel nothing shall be achieved. Ordinarily as we know it, human nature without the grace of God is vengeful and so it is odd for anybody to imagine that the many tribes in Kenya shall not go after each other’s throat again, given an opportunity for antagonism in future, unless the healing and reconciliation are given a priority.
Our Country Kenya has been torn apart, neighbors have turned against neighbors, daughters against fathers, brothers against brothers, mothers against children, tribes have turned against tribes. In short, people have fought, people have died, women and girls have been raped, property has been lost, life savings and investments have gone up in smoke within days if not hours. This sequence of tragic and deliberate wanton destructions, willed and executed by sections of some people is still very fresh.
The church in Kenya strongly feels the need to provide a clear direction on reconciliation process. The Bible and Church teachings provide as a vision on the reconciliation process. It is the faith that gives you what Jesus calls the new standard higher than the old (Mathew 5:20-48). Reconciliation has to be a process of healing the impossible hatred and can be achieved through five stages:
— Remember the sins, wrong actions and utterances we have committed in full without excuses.
— Feel sorry about them and promise ourselves not to repeat them again
— Repent in freedom from the depth of our being
— Confess them openly and experience remorse
— Make reparation for the evil we have done and the damage we have caused to ourselves, community, environment and God.
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H. Exc. Mons. Telesphore George MPUNDU, Archbishop of Lusaka (ZAMBIA)
This intervention refers to Instrumentum Laboris , #s 20, 32, 59, 114 and 117, all of which touch on the dignity of women, their giftedness to humanity, their potential massive huge contribution to the Church but that their charisma is not being adequately recognized, sufficiently utilized and suitably celebrated.
There is no meaningful development if at least 50% of the already marginalized population known as women is systematically excluded. Without true justice between men and women, development remains only a pipedream, simply a dangerous mirage.
We are clearly told in Genesis 1:27 that God created humanity and male and female he created them in his own image and likeness. Full and equal participation of women in all spheres of life is therefore essential to social and economic development. Denial of equality to women is an affront to human dignity and denial of true development to humanity.
We sadly admit with shame that in Zambia women are too often the victims of abuse, domestic violence sometimes leading to death, discriminatory cultural or customary practices, and statutory laws clearly biased against them. We bishops must speak more clearly and insistently in defense of the dignity of women in the light of the Scriptures and the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Yes, it was a woman, Mary, who first brought Jesus to Africa as a refugee [Mt. 2: 13-15]. Today in so many ways it is the woman who brings Jesus to us in Zambia. Women religious and lay women help our Church truly to be at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace, with special concern for the poor.
To promote respect for women and their integration into church structures of responsibility, decision making and planning, we call upon the Synod to recommend to all dioceses the establishment or consolidation of family apostolate and women affairs offices, making them operational and fully effective.
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H. Exc. Mons. Philip SULUMETI, Bishop of Kakamega (KENYA)
This is moment to make an honest reflection and ask, what concrete programs have we put in place to make women participatory, responsible, authentic and actively visible in our Church. We have taken things for granted and slowly we are losing out on this precious group.
It is from women that we have the image of the Church as a family God. It is here that sacraments are alive and active, it is here that vocations and careers are in offing.
Women in Kenya are the prime collaborators in the Church’s evangelizing mission, this gift of commitment must be strengthened to eradicate the suffering taking place on the continent. The enlightenment of women has lasting effects on well being of the family unit on which the church is founded. Women present the unique female image of God which still needs to be developed in the African church.
Women in Kenya do perform 80% of all agricultural and 90% of all domestic labor. Remember that most of them perform this work without access to modem tools, training and essential facilities yet their work is rarely given any monetary value. This is a sign of one of the major forms of structure of “sin” engulfing our African family.
Women are capable of doing anything positive if they are given the right to attempt. Remember that if you educate a man you educated an individual, if you educate a woman you educated a family but if you educate women you educate a nation.
My request to this special assembly of Bishops for Africa is that women should be given quality formation to empower them for their responsibilities and to open for them all the social careers from which traditional and modern society tend to exclude them without reason. To make this a reality, men are called upon to undergo a radical change and a fundamental conversion.
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H. Exc. Mons. Marcel MADILA BASANGUKA, Archbishop of Kananga (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)
All the forms of violence in recent years in Africa and especially in the Dem Rep Congo, negatively influenced the nature, existence and functioning of the family. We could say that the family as such is in opposition to those who do not want peace or reconciliation in Africa.
The Instrumentum laboris, in no. 20, asks this Assembly to elaborate some strategies and programs of service for the family faced with so many different challenges, we have 6 to suggest:
— Form and make more conscious those elected Christians who participate in the lawmaking process for the family, so as to defend the dignity and nobility of this institution. The juridical instruments are very important in democratic systems today;
— Denounce â€œdictatorships and a sort of legislative colonialismâ€ which Africa is often the victim of as regards the family;
— Make the charter of family rights more accessible and have the courage to propose it to the political community in the framework of democratic debates between governors and governed;
— Help Africa come out from under the constraints certain organisms impose on the vision of family because of aid contributed;
— Encourage the spreading of Associations for the family or create new ones to consolidate the family, to make the dignity and the nobility of the sacrament of marriage radiate;
— Introduce in seminaries and other institutes of formation socio-political contextual analyses to search out, to criticize, so as to prevent the threats and dangers that burden the family institution.
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H. Exc. Mons. Youssef Ibrahim SARRAF, Bishop of Cairo of Chaldean Rite (EGYPT)
The Oriental Churches and the Churches of North Africa and even of Ethiopia who have lived through the First Phase of Evangelization in Africa today, bear witness to the Christian vitality that they draw from their apostolic roots, especially in Egypt and Ethiopia and until the XVII Century in Nubia. We must say a long mea maxima culpa because for anthropological and historical reasons the evangelization of Africa ended in Nubia, Ethiopia and in North Africa. These North African and Oriental Churches, do they not have a role to play in the evangelization and missionary activity of the Church and also at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa as done by the political States? It would be proper to mention the presence and the role of the Oriental Churches and those of North Africa for them to bloom in ecclesial communion and not be diminished to only â€œMonumenta Archeologiae Christianaeâ€.
The entire Church-Family of God should be interested in Africa and not only the Churches that are in Africa… This is in effect a Synod of Bishops of the Universal Church… I ask how many, apart from Africa, have read â€œEcclesia in Africaâ€?
We often speak about conflicts of civilizations, cultures or religions. Why would we not mention, rather, the encounter between civilizations, cultures and religions to reach a better understanding and collaboration through dialogue?
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H. Exc. Mons. Gabriel MBILINGI, C.S.Sp., Archbishop Coadjutor Lubango, President of the “Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa” (I.M.B.I.S.A.) (ANGOLA)
We propose to study and apply the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church to the business world and to institutions involved in the promotion of social peace, in a harmonious development, in the social and human well-being, based on principles of general Ethics and economic and business ethics, in light of Canon Law and Civil Legislation.
The theme is: â€œVirtue, Ethic and Missionâ€. This is spreading to all the Dioceses of Angola and S. Tomeâ€™ and Principe. The association represents a challenge by the Church in Angola and S. Tomeâ€™ to their laity and a challenge by the Angolan and Sao Tomean laity to its Dioceses and its Shepherds in the work of evangelization of our lands in a collaboration that we whops will be more fruitful every time.
We hope that this way, its members will participate actively and responsibly in the life and mission of the local Church, by serving the human being, culture, economy and politics, aiming to change, little by little, the mentalities, the social institutions and structures, unjust laws and anything that offends and oppresses the dignity of the human being; poverty, exploitation, racism or tribalism, abuse by those in power, social inequalities, etc…
This context is where the faithful should make their commitment, in the name of the Gospel, in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. This mission of the laity in the world requires a good scientific, doctrinal and spiritual preparation. This is the reason the laity of the ACGD rely on the ecclesiastical assistants for their doctrinal and spiritual accompaniment. They hold encounters of formation in the various areas of their professional activity, they hold spiritual retreats and fraternal cohabitation, supported by their faith and endeavoring to live their communion in diversity.
We are counting on ACGD as the leaven for initiatives of financial autonomy of the Dioceses and above all for a good management inside and outside the Church in our countries, a fact that is a dream for our region of Imbisa and for the entire African continent.
This category of lay faithful certainly is waiting for an encouraging word specifically aimed at them from this Synod of Bishops.
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H. Exc. Mons. Robert Patrick ELLISON, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Banjul
Education has been a major component of the Church’s mission to the people of The Gambia, most of whom are Muslims (ca. 90%). It accounts for the positive spirit of tolerance, understanding and respect that exists between the Muslim and Christian communities in the country today.
The Gambia has no natural or mineral wealth of any significance. It is perhaps because of this (and not in spite of this) that it enjoys a significant level of peace and stability which are important elements for the growth of development. In addition, the people themselves are peace-loving by nature.
When the late Pope John Paul II came for a pastoral visit to The Gambia in 1992, the motto chosen by the Catholic Church for the papal visit was; `Be the Salt of the Earth; be the Light of the World’. As a small Church, which is part of an even smaller Christian presence in a predominantly Muslim country, the theme of this present Synod is a further challenge for us to become a sign and instrument for bringing about justice, peace and mutual respect among the various tribal, religious and social groups that constitute the fabric of Gambian society. For many inequalities still abound.
We believe that education at all levels is one way in which we can help to achieve this by underlining the religious and moral values common to Islam and Christianity – in spite of the various obstacles that confront us.
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H. Exc. Mons. Lucio Andrice MUANDULA, Bishop of Xai-Xai, President of the Episcopal Conference (MOZAMBIQUE)
During this Synodal Assembly on several occasions, we heard that many timesfaithful laymen actively involved in political life in our countries take on behavior and attitudes that are harmful to the fundamental principles of Christian faith and morals. In fact in their daily life, often the faithful laymen find themselves divided between the Christian faith and political alternative, as if Christian life and political activity were two incompatible realities â€œa prioriâ€.
In order to avoid this situation, this Synodal Assembly should attentively examine the deep reasons for this dichotomy, to allow the faithful to live their Christian vocation serenely in the future, without necessarily having to give up their active participation in politics.
In reality, without neglecting that the careless desire for power and greatness many times overshadows the light of faith, where the faithful should illuminate the political world, I think that Catholic Christians involved in political activities in Africa experience great solitude and a sort of abandonment by the hierarchy of the particular churches.
Not being sufficiently accompanied and encouraged by their shepherds and having to act in a world filled with endless plots and ambitions, they end up losing themselves, sometimes causing irreparable damage to their Church, whose sons they are.
In spite of that, we should have been formed in our Catholic universities and being front line Christians at Sunday masses in our Cathedrals, it is not rare for us to be involved in the approval of laws contrary to Catholic faith, such as the liberalization of abortion. Unfortunately they live Christian faith as something disconnected from daily life and from social activities, through which they should contribute to the construction of common good.
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H. Exc. Mons. Gabriel ‘Leke ABEGUNRIN, Bishop of Osogbo (NIGERIA)
The Church needs to be more present to the courageous proclamation of the Truth in today’s Africa where in many places political platitudes and silent negotiation have not been effective (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate). The prophetic voice of the Church in favor of the poor and oppressed must never be compromised or sacrificed on the altar of ungodly friendship or material gain.
One of the greatest challenges that should concern this synod is the fate of considerable numbers of African immigrants present in all the countries of the West. Since the economic meltdown hit, many of these western countries have put up defensive laws and structures to shore up their economies.
Unfortunately among these methods, legislations have been made which come very close to denying even human rights of immigrants, especially those from Africa. In Italy, especially, unregulated immigration has been made illegal and assistance for immigrants from voluntary charity organizations has been squeezed out.
In Africa itself, bad government consisting of corruption, patronage and disrespect for the rule of law, mitigate against justice and reconciliation.
In Africa, from the North to the South, from the East to the West, our young people are the major force as well as primary victims of ethnic violence, genocide, armed banditry, criminality, human trafficking, corruption and bad governance.
In all these, the prophetic voice of the Church must be heard unambiguously.
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H. Exc. Mons. Joseph Effiong EKUWEM, Bishop of Uyo (NIGERIA)
The Instrumentum Laboris refers to witchcraft in No. 32. Some may have a different understanding or definition of witchcraft. The bottom-line understanding across the continent is that witchcraft is an evil force capable of inflicting both spiritual and physical harm on a person. As should be expected, its believed diabolical powers are extremely exaggerated, thus making witchcraft so powerful as though it were God. Our people believe strongly in the existence of such an evil force and its malicious operations.
We know that God exists. He is almighty and creator of all that exists – visible and invisible. This we believe and profess in our creed. He is all-powerful and the only Supreme Being in three divine persons. There is Satan, the prince of darkness. In Genesis, he is called the serpent who deceived our first parents (cf Gn 3:13) leading them to sin against God. The Book of Revelation calls him the ancient serpent, referring to the Genesis event of original sin. It calls him by other names: the red dragon, the devil, Satan and the accuser of our brethren (cf Rv 12:9). The angels, i.e. fallen angels, who are faithful to him constitute his army (Rv 12:7-9).
Far from mere literal interpretation of the text and far from eisexegesis or mutilated hermeneutical approach to an apocalyptic writing such as the Book of Revelations I have just cited, the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, bears witness to the existence of the devil.
The Church recognized these and offered courses on “de Demonio “. Besides, she not only provided the rite of exorcism but made room for the exorcists. This seems to have fallen into disuse over the last few decades.
May I, therefore, suggest:
1. That an authentic catechesis deeply biblical and theological be provided and possibly offered as a course in our theological faculties. A simpler version be also provided for teaching the faithful.
2. A new rite based on the old rite of exorcism be put in place for use by priests.
3. Each ordinary, in accordance with the code of the universal laws should appoint an exorcist for his particular church.
We owe our people according to our teaching office, to teach them and save them from the claws of false belief and terrible occult practices like witchcraft.
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H. Exc. Mons. Matthias SSEKAMANYA, Bishop of Lugazi, President of the Episcopal Conference (UGANDA)
We have reasons to thank God for the positive contributions of our priests, religious and lay faithful, who witness to the Church’s mission of being salt of the earth and light of the world. Many of them serve as agents of reconciliation, justice and peace. Thus, a good number of church founded schools and hospitals attract many people even non Christians, because of quality services based on justice, love and spirit of Christian reconciliation. In any given diocese there are lay men and women who dedicate their lives as animators and leaders of fellow lay faithful in parish council or organized associations of the laity.
However, in spite of the positive contributions of so many dedicated members of the clergy, religious and laity, which contribute to the constant increase of Christians in the Church in Africa, still this has not been always accompanied by having a deeper faith and spirituality among many African Christians.
On the sad note, hopes of increased self-reliance have been weakened by both widespread poverty and insufficient training of our faithful with a result of serious economic problems in many areas of Church life. Thus, the rapid urbanization is the common experience in many parts of Africa. Young people desperately flock to cities and towns looking for any type of work for survival. But at the same time, urbanization is leading many of the African people to lose sense of natural family solidarity and collaboration. This brings about a decline in healthy Christian practices. Thus, individualistic mentality, loss of natural sense of belonging and loss of elders, impact upon the youth. Such kind of life in isolation leads many young people to sexual promiscuity, drug addiction and violence of all sorts.
There is a serious call for pastors in Africa to use different ways and means of proclaiming the Word of God so that it may become to many the salt and light of the earth, leading them to practice reconciliation, justice and peace. There is a need at every level for serious formation in the Church Social Teaching and deeper implementation of inculturation in our catechesis.
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H. Exc. Mons. Peter William INGHAM, Bishop of Wollongong, President of the “Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania” (F.C.B.C.O.) (AUSTRALIA)
Most Dioceses in Australia and New Zealand have a Catholic Development Fund (C.D.F.).
These generate substantial loan funds to finance and maintain Church buildings, schools and welfare facilities.
Parishes, schools, religious organizations as well as clergy, laity and religious congregations deposit their funds for interest paid. So the C.D.F. becomes a Diocesan Financial Institution, where the Church’s funds accumulate and become the source for loans to fund ecclesiastical buildings and apostolic work.
C.D.F. is connected with a major bank so that deposits and withdrawals may be made at their branches. Every C.D.F. in a diocese has to meet solvency requirements annually to a company established by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The Diocese encourages lay people to invest with the C.D.F. rather than just with a “for-profit” commercial financial institution as a personal commitment to support the charitable, religious and educational works of the Catholic Church.
The C.D.F. is under a board of competent financial people who scrutinize the Fund’s investments and approve loans. The Diocesan Financial Council works in conjunction with the C.D.F. to ensure no parish or Church organization undertake a debt it cannot repay.
The modest profit of the C.D.F, enables the bishop to pay fair wages to his office staff and enable the pastoral work of the Diocese.
A national Church insurance company called “Catholic Church Insurances” was established 98 years ago in Australia. Dioceses and religious orders are the shareholders in this co-operative venture that gives insurance protection to all, but especially to poorer dioceses in more remote areas which could not afford commercial insurance rates.
I draw these practical ventures to your attention in order to give some encouragement. Further information can be provided.
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H. Exc. Mons. Denis KIWANUKA LOTE, Archbishop of Tororo (UGANDA)
During the past two years, different parts of Uganda experienced severe flooding followed by severe droughts. Both phenomena have resulted in the failure of crops. We are told that these extended floods and droughts are the result of wanton cutting down of trees without replacing them.
Elsewhere in the world we are told that climate change is caused by overgrazing, improper disposal of refuse and by industrial waste. The result of all this is desertification, the drying up of water springs and water contamination and diseases.
This sad state of affairs was already foreseen two centuries ago by a phenomenologist. He warned that if you tamper with nature, nature is bound to hit back. Apparently people ignored the warning, hence the continuous breaking up of the ecosystem we are experiencing today. Natural laws cannot be ignored, just as one cannot ignore the directives contained in the manufacturer’s manual if one wishes his machine to function well. The physical world has laws which must be respected.
Both prophets of doom and of hope have extensively written about the deteriorating condition of this earth as man’s home, and most of them have made suggestions on how to reverse the situation. Environmental protection has become a global issue deserving the attention of everybody. Just as the HIV/AIDS pandemic not only infects some people but affects everybody, so also global warming infects and affects everybody. For this reason the Church in Africa should through this Synod seriously address the issue of climate change as a moral obligation for everybody. This Synod should find ways of reconciliation between the earth as a victim and man as an offender.
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Rev. F. AquilÃ©o FIORENTINI, I.M.C., Superior General of the Institute of Consolata Missionarios (UNION OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL)
The ministry of reconciliation includes a horizontal and vertical direction, with others and with God. It involves a real school to relearn forgiveness and reconciliation that envisages a method and contents.
A significant contribution that the Churches of 14 countries of the American continent can offer to the Church of Africa as a methodology to obtain forgiveness and reconciliation is the experience of the ES.PE.RE (Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation). These are schools formed of groups of 15-20 people who decide to live a powerful experience of looking after â€œnon grataâ€ (anger, rancor, hatred, vengeance), and who want to be open to forgiveness and reconciliation as the necessary path to personal, family and social reconstruction and the re-establishment of peace in their own neighborhood, city and country.
The ESPERE uses a varied methodology: games, socio-drama, reformulation and hermeneutic exercises, listening spaces, role-playing and other activities; it works on the five dimensions of human beings: cognitive, emotional, behavioral/attitudinal, communicative and transcendental; its backbone is to be found in the work of the small groups where the participants work through anger, hatred and the desire for vengeance; it promotes and enables each participant so that they may become animators/multipliers; it can be adapted to be used by children, young people and adults; it is an ecumenical proposal.
It is a pedagogical proposal in 10 steps, each lasting about 8 hours. Each step follows a similar sequence. The first 5 steps are dedicated to forgiveness. The other 5 refer to reconciliation and touch on fundamental concepts such as truth, justice and understanding.
With this proposal we try to bring pardon into the scenarios of daily life to thus have an influence on public and political life in the cities.
The paradigm of forgiveness and reconciliation is only possible for those who place themselves in a new cosmic, historical, spiritual, cultural and psychological space: the perspective of a new creation (cf 2 Co 5:17-18)
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H. Em. Card. ThÃ©odore-Adrien SARR, Archbishop of Dakar, First Vice-President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (S.C.E.A.M.) (SENEGAL)
One of the sad phenomena, which the media show as a negative image of Africa, is the clandestine migration of thousands of Africans towards Western Europe, and especially the loss of human lives that periodically happens in the Saharan sands, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and that the media never stops reporting. I would like to underline the revealing characteristic of this phenomenon of clandestine migration. The adventure that is dangerous for migrants, is in truth a cry of despair, which proclaims their wish for a better life to the world. Do we perceive this cry of distress and let it enter our hearts, to the point where we try to understand the true meaning of its breadth? Let these dramas call on us to look for the reasons for this phenomenon. I will enumerate just some of these, contained in numbers 12, 25-28 of the Instrumentum laboris: These are factors that block the possibility of economic development that could progressively reduce poverty in the countries south of the Sahara. We would like to point out the pillaging of Africaâ€™s natural resources that has been cried out against so often.
Among other wounds that have been denounced many times, corruption on the part of African leaders, who agree, through secret commission, to the excessive benefits and profits of multinationals to the detriment of their countries. How can we not mention all the internal armed conflicts, fomented and fed by the arms merchants for their commerce, and that throw all these men and women, children and young people, on to the roads of exile. Here, I believe, are some of the sad realities, which must come to our consciences, each time the media reports a drama involving clandestine migration. Let us nourish the consciousness of the causes of these migrations, to be better placed in the battle to end these dramas. In fact, we know full well, it is not the police barriers, no matter how hard they try to prevent it, that will stop the clandestine migration, but the effective decrease of poverty through the promotion of economic and social development spreading to the general population in our countries.
This is why, within the CERAO, we nourish ourselves the ambition to inspire within ourselves, and in sub-Saharan Africans, a jolt or a Renaissance of the black man, rooted in the encounter with Christ and communion with Him. â€œRise, take up your mat, and walkâ€ (Jn 5:8), Christ said to the paralyzed person at the pool of Bethesda. May we all encounter Him, in such a way as to hear Him say once again to us all: â€œRise, take up your mat, and walkâ€, â€œRise, take up your destiny, and walkâ€. This Second Special Assembly is a time of grace that the Lord offers us so that we may commit to looking for Him to meet Him; to allow ourselves to be healed by Him; to draw from Him the love and the strength to devote ourselves to the promotion of justice and the development of populations, to build peace in our countries. Let us take this time of grace to call out for reconciliation, for the promotion of justice and development for the construction of peace:
— Pleas to the governments of our countries, for them to stand up, take their destiny of their people in hand, even that they should forget their personal interests and resist external pressures.
— Pleas to all external forces who have weighed upon and weighed negatively upon the destiny of black Africa: that those who decide may recognize in truth the evils caused to Africa, and involve themselves in working for its true development, to repair it and bring it justice.
Here is a way to contribute to the battle against clandestine migration, as well as the brain drain.
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H. Exc. Mons. Valerian OKEKE, Archbishop of Onitsha (NIGERIA)
The image of the Church as family is founded on the fatherhood of God and this highlights the African family-values of solidarity, sharing, respect for others, hospitality, togetherness, e.t.c., (instrumentum Laboris, no.88). It is neccessary that this one family of God to which we all belong in christ be emphasised, especially in Africa where the family bond excludes wars,injustice and all things contrary to reconciliation and peace.
Giving the importance of the African family in service to reconciliation, justice and peace, we recommend that:
— More attention should be given to preparing couples for marriage and instructing them on the challenges, the duties, and obligations of the family-life, as well as its importance for the well being of the Church and the society.
— Continuous family catechesis, graded in accordance with special need should be part of the catechetical engagement of every local church- Special diocesan organs should concentrate on the needs of the family in the wider society.uch organs should be in constant dialogue with civil authorities to ensure that the fundamental needs of the family are not neglected.
— More attention should be given to the challenges of childless couples in Africa, and they should be encouraged to see their state more as an occasion of grace. Where adoption is an option, effort should be made to ensure that this does not degenerate into commercialization and other practises that tarnish human dignity.
— Special occasions should be set apart in the life of the local Church devoted to drawing attention to the fundamental importance of the family.
— There should be special and on-going training of pastors and other agents of evangelization on the needs of the family especially in Africa.
In order to foster reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa and the world, it is imperative that efforts should be geared towards equipping the members of God’s household from the beginning and from their most natural ambience. The family is the most basic unit of the society from which to commence this effort.
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H. Exc. Mons. Anthony John Valentine OBINNA, Archbishop of Owerri (NIGERIA)
Confiliation is our share in Jesus’ sonship that makes us sons and daughters of God and enables us to embrace others as fellow sons and daughters of God. Confiliation is particularly relevant in redignifying, reconciling and healing us Africans personally, culturally, politically and economically. It demands that in reconciling Africans and in effecting justice the sacredness and dignity of every person be continually respected and protected even in the midst of pain and bitterness. For in the long run reconciliation is rectifiliation, a setting a-right of our relationships either with God or with one another.
With the joy I experience in Christ as a redignified son of God and son of Africa, I am daily challenged to work in and with the spirit of confiliation to redignify fellow Africans and reconcile persons and issues. Among the Igbo to which I belong ethnically I have been working with other sons and daughters of God to break down the idolatrous discrimination of Diala and Osu (free-born and slave-born), which prevents even Catholics from marrying each other. Opposition to this mission continues. Nevertheless, as a result of this confiliatory work more marriages are being celebrated discarding the obnoxious divide.
The Confiliation spirit is being applied to dignify other areas of African culture and settle family and social conflicts. The church-family in Africa should adopt it as a one family-building dynamic.
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H. Em. Card. Giovanni Battista RE, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (VATICAN CITY)
For the service of reconciliation, justice and peace, I would like to underline the importance of pointing education toward reconciliation, paying particular attention to the personal dimension.
Reconciliation in reality begins within our hearts: I mean the heart in the Biblical sense, which is the most intimate nucleus of the human being in his relationship with good, others and God.
Cancelling entirely conflicts and tensions between nations, races, tribes and social classes is beyond the present possibilities of the Church.
The task of the Church and, in particular, of we bishops, is that of educating consciences, of reminding men that they are brothers, of preaching the Gospel of justice and forgiveness, of teaching them to overcome the spirit of vengeance and to love each other in turn.
The task of the Church is to teach to know how to forgive: there cannot be true justice without forgiveness. Forgiveness does not cover injustices, but leads to a higher level that heals wounds and reestablishes human relationships.
So I would like to invite you to have faith in an education of reconciliation and forgiveness. Of course it is not an easy task because restoring harmony between the offended and the offender is a very complex process: it means creating a new heart. It is difficult but not impossible because through pastoral activities the work of grace finds its way into hearts.
With this aim, we have to offer a Christian vision of human relationships. Only by recognizing God as the Father of all can we come to recognize others as our brothers, since they are children of the same Father, even if they belong to different tribes and races.
To carry out an enormous task of education that reaches hearts and minds, the Church in Africa can count on the numerous Catholic schools, including a number of universities, that can have an impact on local culture, favoring reconciliation, justice and peace. The Church can also count on many laudable initiatives and educational programs promoted by the Communities of Consecrated Life. The role of numerous excellent catechists is also very important.
But it seems to me, though, that we bishops have to make every effort to involve priests in this work of educating and forming consciences, priests, first of all, who have to feel it is their mission to announce reconciliation.
The Church walks with the feet of priests that are â€œthe feet of the messenger announcing peaceâ€ (cf Is 52:7). Every bishops has to be particularly concerned with the training of future priests and the permanent training of priests that also has to involve looking more deeply into the social doctrine of the Church on peace and justice.
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Rev. Mons. Obiora Francis IKE, Director of “Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace” (CIDJAP), Enugu, Nigeria (NIGERIA)
The Church of Africa needs to re-echo the message of Pope Benedict XVI who calls on all nations and peoples to work for a new world order in the economy that is inclusive, not exclusive of Africa. If the poor are excluded from the world economy, the rich would also become poor in the long run. We must preach that the end has come for an economy that seeks profit for its own sake; a market economy that does not understand freedom as responsibility; an economy that does not see the human person as its foundation; Therefore, I call for an intensive exploration by the Church of Africa to engage in microfinance activities which benefit the poor and help them to access means for self sustenance and progress. Nations are also challenged to engage in massive infrastructural development investments in Africa, comparable to the Marshall Plan in Germany at the end of the II World war.
The continued exclusion of African economies from currency exchange transactions is a marginalization. Inclusion, not exclusion in the world of the economy is a new chance for all nations to reawaken from their own downturn.
Because of poverty, many young people and professionals from the continent struggling for survival land into trouble. Some of them are even innocent and yet are made victims by a corrupt judicial process of the criminal justice system of our nations. At the same time, the real thieves of the nations treasury go scotch free and continue their thievery in consonance with local and international conspiracy. The Church must carry the light of Christ into the world of prisons to be the light and the salt there by fighting and standing for the rights and freedom of the prisoners, asking for their release and just treatment; sending chaplains to cater for the spiritual needs of prisoners wherever they may be, and insisting internationally that our Africa prisoners be treated with dignity and human rights as the standards of the UN dictate. The abrogation of the death penalty in all our statutes should be made a Gospel challenge.
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H. Exc. Mons. SÃ©raphin FranÃ§ois ROUAMBA, Archbishop of KoupÃ©la, President of the Episcopal Conference (BURKINA FASO)
During the critical period our country went through, the local Church had to, with members of other religious creeds, accompany the process of creating a pluralistic democracy. It contributed to the reconciliation of hearts by presiding over ad hoc structures or in participating in them. We also point out the involvement of the two Episcopal Conferences of the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso which began the meeting in Abidjan to manifest their unity and deep aspiration of their peoples for peace, justice and reconciliation. Some milestones were made for future concerted actions.
Propositions for an effective action of the Church-Family of God for the cause of peace:
— Pastors who are the peacemakers and deeply love their people.
— A social doctrine of the Church that is known better and accessible to all levels of the Church-Family.
— To make others understand that building peace involves everybody and teach all to make acts of peace in their daily lives.
— To respect minorities and the little ones. Thus, the Church will be an effective instrument in the hands of the Lord.