VATICAN CITY, 5 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Second General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began at 4.30 p.m. today in the Synod Hall, in the presence of the Holy Father. The session was dedicated to the presentation of five reports on how the theme of the Synod is perceived on five continents: South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and a single report on the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa".
The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and there were 227 Synod Fathers present.
SOUTH AMERICA: ARCHBISHOP RAYMUNDO DAMASCENO ASSIS OF APARECIDA, BRAZIL, AND PRESIDENT OF THE LATIN AMERICAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE (CELAM). "I would like to suggest some points that could be a theme for dialogue for a possible fraternal exchange between the Churches of the two continents. From the episcopal point of view, we could share with Africa the great wealth of the 54 years of existence of the episcopal organisation I represent: the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), an instrument of episcopal communion and mutual service among our bishops. Another possibility would be - with the support of the Holy See - to invite bishops of the Catholic Church on both continents for an exchange of collegial, pastoral and organisational experiences ... As concerns seminarians and priests, I think that it would be possible, and mutually enriching, to offer the seminaries of particular Churches in Latin America, which have greater resources, for the first period of priestly formation".
NORTH AMERICA: ARCHBISHOP WILTON DANIEL GREGORY OF ATLANTA, U.S.A. "The Church in the U.S.A. continues to benefit from those people from Africa who recently have come as visitors and new residents to our shores. These new arrivals come, not like those of an earlier moment in time, wearing chains and as human chattel, but as skilled workers, professionally trained businessmen, and students eager to make a new life in a land that they view as promising. Many of these new peoples bring with them a profound and dynamic Catholic faith with its rich spiritual heritage. These wonderful people challenge us to rediscover our own spiritual traditions that so often are set aside because of the influence of our secular pursuits".
ASIA: ARCHBISHOP ORLANDO B. QUEVEDO O.M.I. OF COTABATO, PHILIPPINES, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCES (FABC). "The Church in Africa and the Church in Asia are raising questions of deep import. ... As I understand it, the Church in Africa is exploring the theological and pastoral implications of the Church as the Family of God. For us in Asia, guided by Holy Scripture and the living Magisterium of the Church, we have been led by the Holy Spirit, we believe, to explore in the Asian context the theology of Church as communion and as humble servant of the Gospel and of Asian peoples. This theological perspective has opened up the pastoral option of ongoing radical renewal of the Church in Asia, an option more of being than of doing. ... The Church in Africa and the Church in Asia bear similar experiences of sorrow and joy. Sorrow at the many forces of a culture of death ... such as the increasing poverty and marginalisation of our peoples; ... injustices against women and. children; ... our inability to compete with the powerful in a global economic order unguided by juridical and moral norms; religious intolerance instead of a dialogue of reason and faith. ... On the other hand we experience great joy and hope in movements of justice and peace, ... in the solidarity of people of good will from different social classes and religious traditions to work for a more just, more peaceful, more fraternal social order".
OCEANIA: BISHOP PETER WILLIAM INGHAM OF WOLLONGONG AUSTRALIA, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATION OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCES OF OCEANIA (FCBCO). "As in Africa, the Church now exists in Oceania, because of heroic missionaries who came mainly from Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. The faith in Oceania also has some wonderful role models in martyrs and saints in addition to those already canonised and beatified, but nowhere near the glorious tradition of saints and martyrs that witness to the faith in Africa. ... In both Oceania and Africa, great work is being done by the Church and its agencies to help people recover their equilibrium in their communities and to manage risks that could arise from natural disasters. We can and must learn from one another. I ask your prayers for Samoa and Tonga in their grief after the recent earthquake and tsunami".
EUROPE: CARDINAL PETER ERDO, ARCHBISHOP OF ESZTERGOM-BUDAPEST, HUNGARY, AND PRESIDENT OF THE "CONSILIUM CONFERENTIARUM EPISCOPORUM EUROPAE" (CCEE). "Christ is the light of the world. He illumines even the darkness of human history, and no obscurity, no hate, no evil can overcome Him. Our hope is in Him. Even if the Church's voice and the witness of each Christian seems weak, even if they often do not appear on the front page of the great communications media, this subtle voice is stronger than any noise, lie, propaganda, or manipulation. We are witnesses to the strength of the martyrs. ... We European Catholics have learned from our own history closely to follow the fate of African Christians, and we have also learned to respect your faithfulness, your witness, and the African martyrs who give their lives - year after year in worryingly-large numbers - for Christ and for His Church, and in the same way also for us. The Church in Africa has earned our gratitude and our profound respect".
ARCHBISHOP LAURENT MONSENGWO PASINYA OF KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "We must recognise that the spirit and dynamism of the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops gave fresh impulse to the life and mission of the Church in Africa. Not only did the local Churches enthusiastically embrace the post-Synodal Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa', which they published and presented, but they also followed its directives, options and guidelines, both in calling diocesan synods at national or regional level, and in organising congresses, symposia and seminars on the key theme of Church-Family of God. ... The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is called to commit the Church and society in Africa to the path of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, through justice in truth: 'reconciled in the Church-Family of God for the salvation of a numerous people'".
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