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Thursday, March 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's Mass, celebrated at the Amadou Ahidjo stadium in Cameroon's capital city of Yaounde, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, made a brief presentation of the "Instrumentum laboris", or working document of the forthcoming Synod for Africa, which the Holy Father delivered to presidents of African national and regional episcopal conferences.

  The document of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, due to be celebrated in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October, is made up of four chapters preceded by a preface which provides certain Christological and pneumatological parameters for reading the text.

  Chapter one describes the situation of the Church in Africa today, examining the implementation of the 1995 Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa" and its relevance in the new social context. Having identified a number of critical areas in the cultural, economic and political fields, the focus switches to theological reflections on reconciliation, justice and peace, which are the main topics of the upcoming Synod.

  Chapter two underlines the urgent need for justice and peace in Africa. The African notion of reconciliation is intimately associated with the concept of justice and peace, in the desire to restore harmony between victims and offenders, and with society at large.

  Chapter three focuses upon the mission of the Church, Family of God. Through her activity the Church becomes a sign and instrument of reconciliation. In order to promote justice and peace she is committed - through her educational and healthcare structures, and development programmes - to evangelisation and human promotion at the service of all mankind. The Catholic Church is open to dialogue with other Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as with traditional African religions and with Islam.

  Chapter four reflects upon the life witness of all members of the People of God: bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay people, including all ecclesial structures and institutions. Emphasis is given to the particular tasks incumbent upon Christians active in society: politics, the armed forces, finance, education, healthcare, culture, the social communications media and international organisations.

  The "Instrumentum laboris" concludes with a prayer to Holy Mary, Our Lady of Africa, entrusting the preparation and fruits of the Second Special Assembly for Africa to her intercession This, said Archbishop Eterovic, is the first time the Holy Father has composed a prayer for such an aim.

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