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Thursday, October 15, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Fifteenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began this morning in the presence of the Holy Father. The meeting was dedicated to reading the reports of the Working Groups (or language groups).

  The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa, and 224 Synod Fathers were present.

  Following are excerpts from some of the reports:

PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE GROUP: COADJUTOR ARCHBISHOP GABRIEL MBILINGI C.S.SP. OF LUBANGO, ANGOLA, PRESIDENT OF THE INTER-REGIONAL MEETING OF THE BISHOPS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (IMBISA). "Some suggestions: (1) An explicit reference to the social doctrine of the Church, which must form part of our evangelising and catechising doctrine. (2) Catechesis must follow the catechumenal model which leads people to make a personal choice for Christ. (3) Highlight the vital function of consecrated life in the life and mission of the Church. ... (4) Present the world of politics as a form of service to society, helping Christian politicians to shoulder their responsibilities in accordance with their faith. ... As for the clergy, it is important to insist that they live their priestly ministry as service to the People of God and not as an exercise of authority. ... (5) Decisively, clearly and precisely denounce serious human rights situations. (6) Have the courage to follow the path of reconciliation and purification of memory within the Church".

FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP E: FR. EDOUARD TSIMBA C.I.C.M., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY (SCHEUT FATHERS). "The search for truth is a necessary condition for reconciliation. ... To speak of reconciliation means to speak about the mercy of God. Only a person reconciled with God, a person who lives in peace, is able to bring peace. Therefore it is necessary to recall the value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the seriousness that agents (priests) must dedicate to this subject, setting aside all the time and preparation needed for both personal confession and community celebrations. ... The life and witness of many Christians, sometimes to the point of martyrdom, are worthy of being remembered and are a source of reinforcement for the faith. The life and example of Church workers is, without distinction, of great importance in this area of reconciliation. ... We must inspire the collaboration of men as well as women, using their qualities in the Church and in society. May all Christians, each according to their ministry, be proud of being such and of demonstrating it in their lives. ... Holiness is a plea for us all, men and women, and is worthy of an important place in the text".

FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP A: FR. GERARD CHABANON M. AFR., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE MISSIONARIES OF AFRICA (WHITE FATHERS). "Two important themes: (1) The family: This is the base cell of Christian society and communities. It is threatened by poverty, poor government, difficulties in teaching children, violence and the irresponsibility by fathers of families who abandon their wives and children. (2) Islam: ... There are many different situations in Africa, in particular between North and South of the Sahara. 'Arab-ness' and 'African-ness' do not always share the same values. A dialogue of life and a social dialogue could be developed between Christians and Muslims. Emphasis was given to the fact that we must aim everywhere at freedom of conscience and reciprocity of worship".

ENGLISH-FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP A: BISHOP JEAN MBARGA OF EBOLOWA, CAMEROON. "In general, the 'relatio post disceptationem' was positively received. ... However, a multi-ministerial vision of the Church would have given more importance to the place and mission of all categories of the People of God in the Church, especially lay people. The question of tribalism in the Church is still the major challenge. A balance could have been found between theological developments and the extent of the human dramas in Africa to which the Synod Fathers must find answers. The prophetic action of the 'justice and peace' commissions are deserving of greater consideration. ... Ecclesial communion is a force which must allow Africans to confront their challenges with hope and ... in universal solidarity".

  This afternoon and tomorrow morning, the Synod Fathers will again meet in language groups to prepare their proposals, which they will then submit to the Secretariat General of the Synod for presentation to the Holy Father.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presented a new book on ecumenism at a press conference held this morning in the Holy See Press Office. The work is entitled "Harvesting the Fruits. Basic aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue. Ecumenical Consensus, Convergences and Differences" and was published recently by the London publisher "Continuum".

  "This book", the cardinal explained, "is the result of two years of intense efforts I undertook with officials of my pontifical council, in collaboration with our consultors and ecumenical partners. ... In the work we analyse the main Protestant communities, which were the first to establish ties with us following Vatican Council II", and examine the current situation, "with an eye both to the past and to the future".

  During the presentation, Cardinal Kasper announced a symposium, due to be held in February 2010, which, taking the text of this book as its starting point, will discuss the future of Western ecumenism.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Paul D. Sirba of the clergy of the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, U.S.A., vicar general of Duluth, U.S.A., as bishop of Duluth (area 57,875, population 439,478, Catholics 60,532, priests 82, permanent deacons 41, religious 142). The bishop-elect was born in Saint Paul in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Appointed Fr. Fernando Isern of the clergy of the archdiocese of Miami, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, as bishop of Pueblo (area 124,754, population 626,000, Catholics 121,000, priests 90, permanent deacons 33, religious 94), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1993. He succeeds Bishop Arthur N. Tafoya, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, rector of the major seminary of the archdiocese of Yucatan, Mexico, as coadjutor of the diocese Papantla (area 12,000, population 2.065,338, Catholics 1,553,432, priests 86, permanent deacons 1, religious 130), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Merida, Mexico in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Chur, Switzerland, presented by Bishop Paul Vollmar S.M., in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Msgr. Robert C. Evans of the clergy of the diocese of Providence, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of St. Philip at Greenville, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 3,247, population 1,089,000, Catholics 651,000, priests 390, permanent deacons 104, religious 754). The bishop-elect was born in Moultrie, U.S.A. in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1973.
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