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Monday, October 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with Synod Fathers to mark the closure of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

  Commenting on this Sunday's readings in his homily, Benedict XVI explained that "God's plan does not change. Through the centuries and the upheavals of history, He always aims at the same goal: the Kingdom of freedom and of peace for all. This implies His predilection for those deprived of freedom and peace, for those whose dignity as human beings is violated. We think in particular of our brothers and sisters in Africa who suffer poverty, disease, injustice, war, violence and forced migration".

  "The Church that is in Africa, through her pastors who have come from every country on the continent, from Madagascar and from the other islands, has welcomed the message of hope and the light to walk along the road that leads to the Kingdom of God. ... Faith in Jesus Christ - when it is well understood and practiced - guides mankind and nations to freedom in truth, or, to use the three words of the Synod's theme, to reconciliation, justice and peace".

  After then highlighting how the Church in the world is "the community of reconciled persons, workers for peace and justice", the Holy Father made it clear that "for this reason the Synod has forcefully re-emphasised - and expressed - that the Church is the Family of God, in which there can be no ethnic, linguistic or cultural divisions. ... The reconciled Church is a powerful leaven of reconciliation in single countries and in the whole African continent", he said.

  The Church transmits the message of salvation, "always associating evangelisation with human promotion", said the Pope. In this context he mentioned the "historic" Encyclical "Populorum Progressio", saying that what Paul VI wrote there "missionaries have put into effect and continue to put into effect in the field, promoting a development respectful of local cultures and the environment, according to a logic that now, forty years later, appears to be the only one able to bring the African people out of the slavery of hunger and disease.

  "This means transmitting the announcement of hope in 'priestly form'", he added, "that is, living the Gospel in the first person, trying to translate it into projects and deeds consistent with the fundamental driving principle, which is love".

  Pope Benedict encouraged the Church in Africa to arise. "Start down the road of new evangelisation with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit", he said. "The urgent evangelising action that has been much discussed in these weeks also carries with it a pressing call to reconciliation, the indispensable condition for creating in Africa relationships of justice among mankind and for building an equitable and lasting peace while respecting every individual and every people: a peace that needs and opens up to the contribution of all persons of good will beyond the respective religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social affiliations".

  "Courage! Arise, continent of Africa!" the Pope cried. "Welcome with renewed enthusiasm the proclamation of the Gospel so that the face of Christ might illuminate with its splendour the multiplicity of the cultures and languages of your people. As she offers the bread of the Word and the Eucharist, the Church also dedicates herself to working with every available means to ensure that no African may be without daily bread. This is why, along with the primary task of evangelisation, Christians are active in the work of human promotion".

  The Holy Father concluded his homily by calling on pastors of the Church in Africa, when they return to their communities, to "transmit to everyone the call that so often resounded in this Synod, of reconciliation, justice and peace".
HML/CLOSING AFRICA SYNOD/...                VIS 20091026 (650)

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