Sunday, October 25, 2009

Synod Message: Africa, Rise up and walk!

» 10/25/2009

Here is the full text of the Message prepared by the Bishops during the African Synod. It looks at the continent’s tragedies and hopes as well as the Church’s commitment to development, the dignity of women, and the fight against AIDS. It also refers to the dialogue with the Churches of Asia.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – We publish the full text of the Message of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which was approved during the 18th General Congregation last Friday, 23 October, and released today. It contains many important points. First, it signals the commitment of various ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups to the unity of the Church and mentions the fact that African Churches were founded as far back as apostolic times. One section is dedicated to the activities of the Church in favour of development and AIDS patients. On this issue, the bishops express their solidarity towards the Pope who back in March said that condoms were an “inadequate” means to eradicate the disease. The document also expresses appreciation for the women who talked about their role in society and in African Churches. Given the poverty of the continent, the Message stresses the urgency to study and apply the social doctrine of the Church and proposes greater South-South cooperation as well as between the Churches of Africa and Asia.


1. It was a special gift of grace and like a last will and testament to Africa when the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, towards the end of his life, on November 13th, 2004, announced his intention to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. This same intention was confirmed by his successor, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on the 22nd of June 2005, in one of the first major decisions of his pontificate. As we gather here for this Synod, from all countries of Africa and Madagascar and the adjacent Islands, with brother bishops and colleagues from all continents, with and under the Head of the Episcopal College, with the participation of some fraternal delegates from other Christian traditions, we thank God for this providential opportunity to celebrate the blessings of the Lord on our continent, to assess our stewardship as Pastors of God=s flock, and to seek fresh inspiration and encouragement for the tasks and challenges that lie ahead. It is now fifteen years since the First Assembly in 1994. The teachings and directives of the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa have not ceased to be a valid guide for our pastoral efforts. In this follow up assembly, however, the Synod has been able to concentrate on a theme of the greatest urgency for Africa: our service to reconciliation, justice and peace in a continent that is very much in dire need of these graces and virtues.

2. We started our work here with an inaugural celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided over by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, invoking the Holy Spirit to “lead us into all truth” (Jn 16:13). On that occasion, the Pope reminded us that the Synod is not primarily a study session. Rather, it is God’s initiative, calling us to listen: listen to God, to one another and to the world around us, in an atmosphere of prayer and reflection.

3. As we prepare to disperse to our various places of assignment, with renewed commitment and courage, we wish to address this message to the whole Church, Family of God, especially to the Church in Africa: to our brother bishops on whose behalf we are here; to the priests, deacons, religious and all the lay faithful, and to all whose hearts God may open to listen to our words.



4. We live in a world full of contradictions and deep crisis. Science and technology are making giant strides in all aspects of life, equipping humanity with all that it takes to make our planet a beautiful place for us all. Yet tragic situations of refugees, abject poverty, disease and hunger are still killing thousands on a daily basis.

5. In all this, Africa is the most hit. Rich in human and natural resources, many of our people are still left to wallow in poverty and misery, wars and conflicts, crisis and chaos. These are very rarely caused by natural disasters. They are largely due to human decisions and activities by people who have no regard for the common good and this often through a tragic complicity and criminal conspiracy of local leaders and foreign interests.

6. But Africa must not despair. The blessings of God are still abundant, waiting to be prudently and justly employed for the good of her children. Where the conditions are right, her children have proved that they can reach, and have indeed reached, the height of human endeavours and competence. There is much good news in many parts of Africa. But the modern media often tend to emphasize bad news and thus seem to focus more on our woes and defects than on the positive efforts that we are making. Nations have emerged from long years of war and are moving gradually along the path of peace and prosperity. Good governance is making appreciable positive impact in some African nations, challenging others to review past and present bad habits. Signals abound of many initiatives seeking to bring effective solutions to our problems. This Synod, precisely by its theme, hopes to be part of such positive initiatives. We call on all and sundry to join hands to address the challenges of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace in Africa. Many are suffering and dying: there is no time to waste.

See also from CNA, "‘Rise up!’ Pope Benedict tells Africa at close of Synod."

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:


Pope Benedict: Priests human maturity
October 25, 2009

And from yesterday at the Synod:

Benedict XVI: at the Synod, we spoke as pastors
October 24, 2009

The Church is an Evangelizer now and forever
October 24, 2009


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