VATICAN CITY, 7 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Fifth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held this afternoon in the Vatican's Synod Hall. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Senegal, Dakar.
Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:
CARDINAL JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE. "Traditional African religion strongly influences Africans, who are by nature religious. ... Christian missionaries did not reveal God to the Africans (they already had an idea): they brought them Jesus Christ, 'God with a human face'. ... The activity of the sects, because of the simplicity in their beliefs, attracts many Africans who find themselves in a situation of instability. ... This synodal assembly should encourage the study of traditional African religion, foment greater pastoral care for the people who live in contact with it and suggest what is best to be done for the common good ... The development of sects could also be an invitation to pastors to take better care in the transmission of the content of the faith in the African cultural context. If we wish to answer the question: what does the Gospel have to say to Africans that is new? it is necessary to know and appreciate the religious roots of the peoples in this continent".
ARCHBISHOP TARCISIUS GERVAZIO ZIYAYE OF BLANTYRE, MALAWI, PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF MEMBER EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES OF EASTERN AFRICA (AMECEA). "As the Church in Africa, ... we face the call to move to a more mature catechesis, promoting a true Christian identity and a profound conversion of hearts. It is disheartening that in Africa today Catholics should participate in political and ethnic clashes, that Catholic politicians could be involved in serious corruption of public resources, and that some of our Catholics revert to occult practices in times of difficulties. All this tells us that we still have a long way to go to promote a faith that transforms the heart, and a faith that does justice. There is a need at every level of the Church in Africa for more serious formation in the Church's social teaching and deeper implementation of inculturation in our theology and not only in our rituals".
BISHOP AMBROISE OUEDRAOGO OF MARADI, NIGER. "In Niger, Islam is present in a substantial way and colours all activities in social, cultural, economic and political life. Mosques and madrasahs are everywhere. We are also witnessing the establishing of orphanages, medical centres and help centres. Certain new reformist Islamic movements provide programming for private radios and television networks with the aim of helping Muslim believers to live and practice their faith better. Living in the heart of this socio-cultural and religious context, the Church Family of God here in Niger, conscious of being a minority, tries to live and testify to the love of God, to be at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. The Church of God here in Niger has made Islamic-Christian dialogue a pastoral priority in its mission of evangelisation. Without pretending to be carrying out anything extraordinary or doing anything striking, the Christian communities, supported and encouraged by their pastors, are striving to study and live a life of universal brotherhood in a spirit of free giving with their Muslim brothers and sisters, through a dialogue of life, listening and mutual respect, and the exchange of proper procedures in the most significant events of human life".
BISHOP MAURICE PIAT C.S.SP. OF PORT-LOUIS, MAURITIUS. "Parents, disarmed by the violence affecting their families, or shaken by the modernity that disrupts traditional paths for the transmission of values, must be supported. When war tears their families apart, parents may ask themselves what meaning there is to their lives, and what values they can still transmit to their children. ... Parents who are victims of violence need to be accompanied on their healing path. ... When, through 'Living Ecclesial Communities', parents find a response to their desire ... to communicate and are put into contact with the Word of God, they discover, on the basis of the trials they have suffered, an unexpected proximity with Christ's suffering which encourages them and restores meaning to their lives. To accompany these families on the Paschal path, it would seem essential today for the Church-Family of God to spread the salt of the Gospel in African lands".
BISHOP FULGENCE MUTEBA MUGALU OF KILWA-KASENGA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "To be effective, ecclesial communication must become a pastoral priority. To do this, the social communications media must be truly placed at the service of evangelisation and of the evangelised themselves. In this regard, we hope that our ecclesial structures and ecclesiastical institutions may be able to set up, within the limits of available resources, their own communications media (radio, newspapers, information bulletins, internet sites, television, telephone, etc.) and truly use them. ... Bishops, priests and seminarians, must learn how to use the new technologies of communication and information in pastoral care, especially in the pastoral care of justice, peace and reconciliation. Our people must also be trained in the discernment and critical use of media instruments, in the light of ethical principles and human rights".
BISHOP GEORGE NKUO OF KUMBO, CAMEROON. "Apart from greed, corruption and lack of confidence in our political leaders, one of the great obstacles to justice, peace and reconciliation in Africa is poverty. There is poverty in Africa and there is hunger in many parts of the continent of Africa. There are greedy people in Africa including our leaders who do not care about their brothers and sisters. Poverty means that basic needs for food, water and shelter are not being met. Poverty means that security in the community is not available. Poverty means that the means to heal our families is not available. Poverty means that our children will have no future with hopes of having a family and a means of support. Poverty means that sadness and fear have replaced joy and serenity. This is the poverty of many places in Africa. Poverty is the single greatest cause of hunger. There is poverty in Africa but Africa has almost all it takes to be the richest continent on earth. Africa is about the wealthiest continent in natural resources in the world. ... True enough there are no quick fix solutions to solving large scale poverty but we must begin somewhere".
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