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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Synod Hall at 4.30. p.m. today, the Twelfth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began in the presence of the Pope. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, and 210 Synod Fathers were present.

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

BISHOP TESFASELASSIE MEDHIN OF ADIGRAT, ETHIOPIA. "I have not noticed enough attention accorded to formation, which is a fundamental subject for the Church in Africa. ... We must therefore ensure that the formation we give to our future priests and agents of evangelisation makes them aware of the challenges, self confident, balanced and mature ministers who could stand against and through the serious turbulence of the times. ... The formation programmes of the major seminaries and houses of religious formation should be given serious attention and evaluation, to determine their quality and effectiveness in producing members of the Church who can be true witness to reconciliation, justice and peace. We should use our higher learning institutes by establishing a faculty which develops and integrates into its modules the best practices and most effective African cultural ways of reconciliation".

ARCHBISHOP LAURENT MONSENGWO PASINYA OF KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "Peace goes hand in hand with justice, justice with right, right with truth. ... Thus it is necessary, at all costs, to promote a rule of law in which primacy is truly given to law and especially to constitutional law; a rule of law in which arbitrary and subjective judgments do not create the law of the jungle; a rule of law in which national sovereignty is recognised and respected; a rule of law in which each individual is fairly given his due. ... In seeking peaceful solutions, all paths, especially the diplomatic and political paths, must aim at re-establishing truth, justice and peace. ... It is in by eliminating all barriers, exclusion, discriminatory laws in worship and society, and especially by suppressing hatred, that men are reconciled and peace is made".

BISHOP KRIKOR-OKOSDINOS COUSSA OF ALEXANDRIA OF THE ARMENIANS, EGYPT. "In 1915, the Ottomans ... killed the Armenian people in Greater Armenia and Lesser Armenia (Turkey). One and a half million people perished during this genocide. The Armenians left and were dispersed, first in the Middle East then throughout the world. ... As this Synod takes place ninety-four years after the killings, following Christ's call to forgive one's enemies, the leaders of the Armenian State and the heads of the Armenian Churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical) are performing an act of public pardon towards the Turks. We do so while appealing to the Turks to recognise the genocide, to pay homage to the martyrs and to grant Armenians their civil, political and religious rights. The path of reconciliation between the two States has begun. For this, I appeal to political leaders that they may support our progress alongside the Turks, with the Universal Church and the African Church in distress".

BARBARA PANDOLFI, PRESIDENT OF THE SECULAR INSTITUTE OF THE MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE KINGSHIP OF CHRIST, ITALY. "Members of Secular Institutes are a hidden presence, accepting the precariousness of daily life alongside others without protection or privileges, searching for ways and solutions that sometimes exist only in the realm of possibility, and living with the longing for universal brotherhood. The vocation of secular institutes highlights the need for the promotion of a mature laity, one capable of contributing to the edification of a civil society based on the human values of Christianity. ... Since most secular institutes in Africa are female institutes, there is an urgent need to favour and promote the worth of women, not just as wives and mothers, but as people capable of responsibility and autonomy in different areas of social life, just as there is an urgent need for them to play a specific and not just a subordinate role in the Church. If the first fracture of mankind, caused by sin, was that between man and woman, one sign of peace and reconciliation would be the promotion of authentic joint responsibility and effective acknowledgment of equal dignity between men and women, over and above all domination and discrimination".

  Today's General Congregation concluded with an address by Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), one of the three special guests who are participating in the Synod at the invitation of the Holy Father. Excerpts from his remarks are given below.

  "First and foremost, Africa means shared values of civilisation based on the historical awareness of belonging to the same people. ... Africa, martyred, exploited, despoiled by slavery and colonisation but now politically sovereign, must not fall back into rejection and negation, even if she has a duty to remember the past. She must have the greatness to forgive and continue to develop a cultural conscience based on her own identity which rejects alienating assimilation. She must study the operational concepts of Blackness and 'African-ness', including the diaspora. ... Africa has always been presented in the light of the difficulties she faces, but she is the land of the future which in the next forty years will experience strong demographic growth. ... With [her] resources, ... Africa cannot be ignored in the economic development of the planet. ... Food security is essential for the reduction of poverty, the education of children and the health of the people, but also for lasting economic growth. ... From this point of view, one essential factor is the contribution of African women to agricultural production and commerce, and their role in nourishing the entire family. In fact, any initiative aimed at facing the problem of food insecurity in Africa cannot hope to be successful without taking this economic and social fact into account. ... Of all the suffering the African continent experiences, hunger remains the most tragic and the most intolerable. Any commitment to justice and peace in Africa cannot be separated from the need for progress in achieving the right to food for all. ... The Church has always given herself the task of comforting the misery of the poorest and the motto of the FAO is 'Fiat Panis': 'Bread for all'. Most Holy Father, in your last Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' you highlight how all economic decisions have moral consequences. ... The vision of a world free of hunger is possible if there is political will at the highest level. ... The great spiritual and moral forces are an inestimable support for us in our activities. ... I would also like to praise the Church's action in the field, with the poorest of the poor. Missionaries and religious ... often undertake difficult tasks alongside inter-governmental organizations, NGOs and civil society, tasks that are at times ungrateful but always useful. ... I would like to underline the convergence of religious teachings, especially those of the Catholic Church and Islam, towards the need to oversee the rational use of resources on the basis of a strategy respectful of the persons and things of this world, without excess or waste. All these teachings underline the fundamental role of social responsibility, recommending solicitude towards the poorest. From this point of view, the Church's social doctrine plays an essential role".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Thirteenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of 220 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

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

BISHOP ERNESTO MAGUENGUE OF PEMBA, MOZAMBIQUE. "The principle source of wealth of the continent is its people, especially the young, adolescents and children. ... Many young people are drawn into violence, prostitution, the trafficking and consumption of drugs, organised crime, ethnic and tribal conflicts, religious fundamentalism and satanic sects, among other things. ... In such a context, I suggest that the synodal assembly: (1) Sends out a message of trust and encouragement to the young. ... (2) Denounces the marginalisation, manipulation and violation of children's rights as one of the most terrible forms of injustice. (3) Highlights the need for a serious study of African youth, ... and for the integral education and formation of the young. ... (4) Revises the content and method of catechesis and of the various catechisms".

BISHOP SERVILIEN NZAKAMWITA OF BYUMBA, RWANDA. "The Church in Rwanda, in her pastoral care of reconciliation, justice and peace following the terrible events of the genocide of the Tutsi and others - and in the wake of the challenges she has encountered and has partly overcome - is convinced that the work of reconciliation is God's initiative. ... The Justice and Peace Commission, in collaboration with other commissions and pastoral care agencies, has accompanied the process of reconciliation with various programmes aimed at educating people in values and at forming agents of reconciliation. ... In this pastoral care of reconciliation, the Catholic Church ... collaborates closely with other religious confessions and with public and private institutions that operate in the field of post-genocide reconciliation".

ARCHBISHOP EDWARD TAMBA CHARLES OF FREETOWN AND BO, SIERRA LEONE. "The multinational extractives are causing so much injustice in Africa that the Church can no longer remain silent about them. In their desire to exploit the continent's rich natural and mineral resources, these companies can do anything, including the fomenting of inter ethnic conflicts, sale of arms and ammunition, and the overthrow of legitimate governments. The oil rich Delta States in Nigeria and the eastern and southern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo are clear examples of this. Confronted by such hostile forces, many local Churches cannot do much to ensure that the companies accept their corporate responsibility. Therefore I am appealing that local Churches and episcopal conferences of the affected regions intervene to ensure that just mining policies are established to ensure that African States and their populations benefit from their own natural and mineral resources. I am also appealing to local Churches of countries from which those multinationals come to intervene on behalf of Africa and its people. Those companies may be bringing home cheap oil and cheap tropical hard wood, but they are causing untold sufferings for our people in Africa. In the name of God and of our ecclesial communion, we appeal to you to help us to stop their injustices against our people".

FR. JAN GEERITS S.D.S., APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF THE COMORES. "There are barriers and limitations in the work of evangelization in the Comores. ... As we are a minority, there is a real danger that our small Catholic communities become tired and discouraged. Nevertheless, the smallness of our Catholic communities spurs us to invest in the mission of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Not being allowed to evangelise with the mouth and the word, nothing stops us from speaking with our hands, that is: serving the population in all humility through works of charity. Each man is unique and has the ability to choose freely to be (or not to be) the image of his Creator. God constantly invites us to say yes with a patience that is beyond us, without ever obligating or forcing His creatures. ... Thus, it is an injustice to obligate one's fellow man to become a Muslim and to exclude salvation a priori to all those who do not follow Islam. This injustice can never lead to reconciliation and profound peace with Muslims and must be recognised one day as an ... error, both by their and by the simple faithful, so that this separating wall may finally fall as others fell in the past".

ARCHBISHOP LIBORIUS NDUMBUKUTI NASHENDA O.M.I., OF WINDHOEK, PRESIDENT OF THE NAMIBIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCE. "Namibia is basically enjoying political and economic stability, but the Church is nevertheless called upon to be a vigilant and prophetic watchdog with regard to the issues of reconciliation, justice and peace. ... We have tried to embark upon two projects which I would like share with you: (1) We have called upon the clergy, religious and faithful to encourage both the faithful and people of good will; to exercise their democratic right to vote in order to elect as their future leaders those who will be good servants and ... will fight against all forms of corruption. ... We have been meeting with all political parties to call upon them to uphold the principle of democracy in their campaigning in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect in order to maintain our hard won peace, ... while affirming the fact that, in any race, there is always a winner and a loser, and that the latter should accept the result with dignity and humility. African leaders should therefore learn to relinquish power gracefully. (2) Special ministry to sex workers   prostitution   for which we have a priest with this charism. In many situations these sex workers, of whom 80 percent are infected by the HIV/AIDS virus, are forced into this life style by poverty and are sexually abused by well salaried people".

FR. ZEFERINO ZECA MARTINS S.V.D., PROVINCIAL FOR ANGOLA OF THE SOCIETY OF THE DIVINE WORD. "I wish to refer to the Chinese workers who are to be found all over Africa. Certainly for the Chinese State they are workers who are sent outside the borders to increase their hegemony in the worldwide economic panorama. For our States, they are no more than the manpower required for a speedy reconstruction of the infrastructures destroyed by war. I therefore propose that the episcopal conferences work with those dioceses in which the pastoral care of immigrants is a necessity in order to create a pastoral programme for bringing the Gospel of Christ to Chinese workers in African countries".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communiques this morning:

  "On the morning of Monday 16 November, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will visit the Rome headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), for the occasion of the opening of the World Summit on Food Security, due to take place as part of the FAO's thirty-sixth general conference (18 to 23 November)".

  "On the afternoon of Sunday 17 January 2010, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will visit the Synagogue of Rome to meet the local Jewish community for the occasion of the twenty-first Day for the study and development of dialogue between Catholics and Jews, and of the Feast of the 'Mo'ed di Piombo' which falls on the same day". The feast commemorates a miraculous event of 1793 when the Jews of Rome escaped an attack by the populace of the city thanks to a sudden storm which doused the fires that had been ignited against the gates of the ghetto".
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