VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2009 (VIS) - During the twentieth and final General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held this morning in the Synod Hall, the relator general, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, continued reading out the final list of propositions which he had begun during the session of yesterday afternoon. Subsequently the final vote on the propositions took place, using the procedure "placet" or "non placet". The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal.
At 1 p.m. the participants in the Synod attended a luncheon with the Holy Father in the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
Cardinal Sarr pronounced some words thanking the Pope for the "paternal concern, respect and diligence he had shown towards Africa and its peoples, the Churches of the continent and all their members" since the beginning of the Synod.
At the end of lunch the Pope addressed those present, expressing his satisfaction for the progress made by the Synod, the theme of which - reconciliation, justice and peace - "was not", he said, "an easy challenge".
"The subject matter", he went on, "clearly had strong political implications, even though it is obvious that reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without a profound purification of the heart, without a renewal of the mind, a 'metanoia', without the newness that arises from the meeting with God.
"Yet even if this spiritual dimension is profound and fundamental", the Pope added, "the political dimension is also very real because without political achievements the novelties of the Spirit are not normally realised".
Hence the temptation could have been to politicise the theme, to speak less as pastors and more as politicians, and thus in a sphere which is not our own".
Benedict XVI went on: "The other danger was that, precisely in order to escape this temptation, we should retreat into a purely spiritual world, an abstract, beautiful but unrealistic world. Yet a pastor's words must be realistic, they must touch reality but within the perspective of God and of His Word.
"Maintaining this equilibrium means, on the one hand, remaining true to reality, careful to speak about what is really there and, on the other, not falling into purely political solutions. This means using words that are concrete but spiritual.
"This", the Pope concluded, "was the great problem facing the Synod, and it seems to me that, thanks to God, we managed to resolve it. For me this is another cause to give thanks because it facilitates the preparation of the post-Synodal document".
Before concluding his remarks, the Pope announced that he had decided to appoint Cardinal Turkson as the new president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in which role he succeeds Cardinal Renato Martino.
SE/FINAL CONGREGATION/... VIS 20091026 (480)