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Friday, October 9, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican's Synod Hall this morning, the Eighth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held in the presence of the Pope and 219 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal.

  Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:

BISHOP JAN OZGA OF DOUME-ABONG' MBANG, CAMEROON. "I believe it is extremely important that this Second Synod for Africa should go through the African family to produce the desired fruits. Because the formation of a new culture of reconciliation, justice and peace is a task for the family before being a task for society. If these three values take root and find foundation and meaning within the family, their culture could spread to all levels of African society. ... Justice is the just appreciation, recognition and respect for the rights and merits of each person. The family is called to teach true justice which is the only way to achieve respect for individual human dignity".

BISHOP ALBERT VANBUEL S.D.B., OF KAGA-BANDORO, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. "In recent months we have deplored the divisive acts among priests themselves, between priests and bishops, between priests and the laity; this is certainly not the Gospel we must proclaim. We were sent to build a Church united in the Spirit of God Who guides us, and we cannot at the same time tear at the Body of Christ. The Year for Priests dedicated to us by the Holy Father should inspire us and offer us a new direction: faith in Christ, faith in priests and faith in every baptised person. There is a general expectation for a time of peace, justice and reconciliation. The events that we have experienced and continue to experience prove that there is always a reason for hope, and that every night we live through is followed by a dawn and a new day. Every one of us is weak, a sinner; but together we must listen to the Word of God, we must live it, to build our Church-Family in communion".

ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH KUMUONDALA MBIMBA OF MBANDAKA-BIKORO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "Ever since the implantation of the Church in Africa and, more specifically, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, school education has benefited from her particular attention. Consequently, schools of all levels, as well as institutes of higher education and universities, are places for the apostolate. ... But the multiform crisis associated with the continual wars has brought deplorable consequences in the area of education. ... Poor education compromises the future for generations of young people and sacrifices their capacities, which should go to serve the entire nation. This is unjust and does not guarantee peace. Frustrated youth remains at the mercy of wrongdoers. In a climate of general complacency engendered by indecent practices, the quality of teaching is not guaranteed. Organisers, promoters and parents are aware that the diplomas handed out do not reflect the intellectual and moral level necessary for the world of science and of work".

EVARISTUS THATHO BITSOANE OF QACHA'S NEK, PRESIDENT OF THE EPSICOPAL CONFERENCE OF LESOTHO. "The Church in Lesotho, like many other local Churches of Africa is involved in the area of health, education and in the service of the poor. Lesotho is about fifty percent Catholic and the Church has the majority of schools in the country. From these numbers one would hope that Catholic principles would prevail in the running of the country. On the contrary, people embrace anything that will enable them to have bread on the table even if it is opposed to the teaching of the Church. Many countries of Africa have signed the Maputo Protocol and Lesotho is no exception to that. Even though the services of our Catholic hospitals are appreciated by many we are afraid that many abortions will be performed in private hospitals. What the Church of Lesotho needs urgently in order to continue her service to the poor is for the sister Churches of the developed world to influence their governments not to impose ideologies that are foreign to Africa. During this period of transition to financial self reliance, Africa still needs the support of its sister Churches of the developed world".

BISHOP FRANKLYN NUBUASAH, S.V.D., APOSTOLIC VICAR OF FRANCISTOWN, BOTSWANA. " Botswana is a small stable democratic country. ... We are a middle income country that attracts people from other places of Africa. ... There are a good number of refugees seeking asylum. We have peace because of our traditional mechanism of the 'kgotla', i.e. the court of the ruler where dialogue is respected. Our belief is that the greatest war is one of words. The Church has introduced this cultural practice to the parishes to help make and promote peace and understanding.
Right now, there is a strain on our resources, job market and health facilities because of the influx of people due to the socio political situation of the region. We are concerned about xenophobia due to the present harsh economic downturn. The Church has been with the people promoting peace and brotherhood. There has been no need for minorities to use violence to make their concerns known. AIDS is a challenge for the countries in Southern Africa. Botswana is working hard through education to prevent new infections. Treatment is available for citizens but unfortunately not for refugees and foreigners living in the country. AIDS has ravaged the foundations of Botswana society. It has the potential to be used as a weapon of war and conflict. How do you forgive one who deliberately infects you with the killer virus?".
ARCHBISHOP JORGE ENRIQUE JIMENEZ CARVAJAL C.I.M. OF CARTAGENA EN COLOMBIA, COLOMBIA. "Thousands and thousands of black people were brought to America where they were auctioned and forced to work until they died. ... Peter Claver awaited the 'slave ships' with expectations different from those of the traders. ... For the apostle the new arrivals were 'children of God' who needed to know all the truth of the Gospel. ... Africa is the 'Great Motherland' of all our black peoples from Canada to the Tierra del Fuego, including all the marvels of their presence in the Antilles and the Caribbean. How many things that make the American continent great have only been possible with the contribution of black people, heirs to such still-hidden richness, to such a wealth of symbols that with the passage of time have enriched the Christian message, to such joy of believing in the faith even though life has been so hard to them. The history of Africa in America is not of yesterday, it is living today. For this reason I believe that this Synod should also include a reference to the black people of America (I hope you have noticed the use of the word 'American' to designate the whole of America: North, Central, Antillean, Caribbean and South). A large part of their heart still lives and will continue to live in Africa, they will appreciate what happens here and consider it as pertaining to them".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Seventh General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began at 4.30 this afternoon. The session was attended by 212 Synod Fathers and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The session ended at 5.30 p.m. in order to enable participants to attend the concert "Young people against war (1939-2009)", held in the Auditorium on Via della Conciliazione to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

  Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:

CARDINAL ANDRE VINGT-TROIS, ARCHBISHOP OF PARIS AND PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE. "Our European Churches have rejoiced in seeing the sub-Saharan African Churches reach maturity with their own hierarchy, clergy, religious communities and laity, so strongly involved in the life of the parishes and the proclamation of the Gospel on the African continent. For some years now, our relations have developed into an authentic exchange of gifts. Without a doubt many French dioceses and parishes are committed to giving concrete aid to the various African Churches, but today many of our parishes also receive important help from African dioceses. ... I would particularly like to emphasise one very important point: relations between the two bishops (the African bishop and the French bishop) must be as clear as possible. Each time we neglect these prerequisites, it is to the detriment of the mission and to the detriment of the priest. The difficulties we encounter must not hide the richness of the relationship between our Churches or prevent us from giving thanks for the exchange of gifts that we are experiencing".

CARDINAL ANTHONY OLUBUNMI OKOGIE, ARCHBISHOP OF LAGOS, NIGERIA. "Africans are generally known to be very religious people. The idea of God or the deity is innate in us. It is therefore not surprising that two of the world's most widespread religions, Christianity and Islam, have found a warm welcome in the continent. It is however saddening to note that often these religions have been misused and made a source of deadly conflicts in Africa. This notwithstanding, most parents can hardly fulfil their responsibilities to their families without an organised, conscious, consistent and serious family prayer life or, put simply, without referring to God in times of difficulties, joy and sorrow. They firmly know and believe that only God can change, bless and empower the family. ... No matter how bad things may seem to be, no matter what solutions we may seem to proffer, if these are not blessed by God, I wonder how durable our success if any, will be?"

BISHOP MATTHEW KWASI GYAMFI OF SUNYANI, GHANA. "In some parts of Africa because of the culture and tradition of the people before the Church was introduced, many African women find themselves in polygamous marriages through no fault of theirs. Because of this, many of the women attending church are denied the Sacraments of Initiation, Reconciliation and Marriage. ... In some parts of Africa many women attend church regularly and actively participate in all church activities, but are denied the Sacraments of Initiation, Reconciliation and Marriage, not counting the many denied fitting Christian burial for not being baptised. The Church needs to address this painful and unpleasant situation in Africa by giving some special privileges to women, who have been the first wives with children and through no fault of their own have become victims of polygamous marriages, to receive the Sacraments of Initiation and others. The reception of these sorely tried women to the Sacraments will enable them to share in the peace and reconciliation offered by the compassion and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who came to call sinners and not the self righteous".

BISHOP JOHN ANTHONY RAWSTHORNE OF HALLAM, ENGLAND, PRESIDENT OF THE CATHOLIC AGENCY FOR OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT (CAFOD) OF THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES. "With the support of international Catholic agencies, the Church in Africa has been confronting HIV and AIDS since well before the first Synod on Africa. Today concern seems to be waning, even if the problem remains acute for many Africans. Catholic solidarity should continue supporting the long term commitment of the Church in Africa to raise awareness, to accompany the infected and the affected, to form the youth, and to face this great challenge".

BISHOP EDWARD GABRIEL RISI O.M.I., OF KEIMOES-UPINGTON, SOUTH AFRICA. "The proclamation of the Gospel and the quest to deepen its meaning and practice in Africa faces the same challenges as does culture. The Church is therefore in a privileged position because in her quest to promote the values of the Gospel, she shares a similar struggle with Africa's peoples in their pursuit to preserve and advance those cherished values of their cultural heritage. Creating opportunities for dialogue offers the Church opportunities to understand those who experience alienation in an increasingly secularised and globalised Africa, with its brutal memories of colonisation and oppression. A commitment to open and honest dialogue is vital for forging the way forward so that the influence of the Gospel, like that of culture, is not lost in the emerging voices in Africa. In particular a re-commitment to SECAM can make it an important instrument for dialogue on our continent".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Auditorium on Rome's Via della Conciliazione Benedict XVI attended a concert entitled "Young people against war (1939-2009)", played by the "InterRegionales Jugendsinfonie Orchester" conducted by Jochem Hochstenbach. The programme included compositions by Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelsshon-Bartholdy and texts by Johan Wolfgang Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Paul Celan and Berthold Brecht, as well as two poems by children imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, read by Michelle Breedt and Klaus Maria Brandauer.

  The concert, called to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, was organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, the German embassy to the Holy See and the European "KulturForum" of Mainau.

  At the end of the concert the Holy Father made some brief remarks, expressing his joy at having been able participate in this initiative which, he said, "using the universal language of music, ... seeks to encourage young people to build the future of the world together, drawing inspiration from the values of peace and the brotherhood of man".

  "This evening the tragedy of World War II returns to our memory, a terrible page of history steeped in violence and inhumanity which caused the death of millions of people, leaving the winners divided and Europe to be rebuilt. The war, instigated by National Socialism, affected many innocent peoples in Europe and on other continents, while with the drama of the Shoah it particularly affected the Jewish people, who were victims of a planned extermination. Yet calls for reason and peace were not lacking from many sides. Here in Rome, the heartfelt cry of my venerated predecessor Pius XII rang out. In his radio message of 24 August 1939 - on the very eve of the outbreak of war - he decisively proclaimed: 'nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost with war'. ... May the recollection of those sad events be a warning, especially to the new generations, never to yield to the temptation of war".

  Pope Benedict then went on to mention the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, "an eloquent symbol of the end of the totalitarian Communist regimes of Eastern Europe", he said. "Europe and the entire world thirst for freedom and peace. Together we must build true civilisation, not founded on force but on the 'fruit of our victory over ourselves, over the powers of injustice, selfishness and hatred which can even go so far as to disfigure man'".

  "The ecumenical movement", he concluded, "can help to build [this civilisation], working together with the Jews and with all believers. May God bless us and grant humankind the gift of peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Gurue, Mozambique, presented by Bishop Manuel Chuanguira Machado, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
RE/.../CHUANGUIRA                            VIS 20091009 (50)

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