VATICAN CITY, 6 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Fourth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began today at 4.30 p.m. The session was attended by 225 Synod Fathers, and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.
Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:
ARCHBISHOP FRANCOIS XAVIER MAROY RUSENGO OF BUKAVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO. "Considering the damage caused by wars and violence in the east of our country, ... we feel that reconciliation can no longer be limited solely to the harmonisation of interpersonal relations. It must inevitably take into consideration the profound causes behind the crisis in relations, associated with the interests and natural resources of the country which must be exploited and managed openly and fairly for the good of everyone. ... As we speak during these meetings, pastoral workers in our archdiocese are being attacked by the enemies of peace. One of the parishes of our archdiocese was burnt down on Friday 2 October 2009, the priests were attacked, others taken hostage by men in uniform who demanded a very high ransom which we were forced to pay to save the lives of our priests, whom they threatened to kill. Through these acts, it is the Church - the only support that remains for a terrorised, humiliated, exploited and dominated people - whom they would reduce to silence. Lord, may your will be done, may your kingdom of peace arrive".
CARDINAL WALTER KASPER, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY. "While there has been, thanks to God, a rapid growth of the Church in Africa, there is sadly also an increasingly deeper fragmentation among Christians. ... There are today also many new divisions in Africa itself when we think on the more recent Charismatic and Pentecostal communities, the so called independent Churches and the sects. ...Their vitality on the African continent is reflected in the growth of the African Independent Churches, which have now formed an official institution, the OAIC based in Nairobi. ... A serious dialogue with these groups is not easy if not in many cases totally impossible because of their aggressive behaviour and to say the least their low theological standard. We have to face the urgent challenge by a self critical attitude. For it is not enough to tell, what is wrong with them, we have to ask what is wrong or what is deficient with our own pastoral work. Why do so many Christians leave our Church? What are they missing with us and searching elsewhere?"
BISHOP MARTIN MUNYANYI OF GWERU, ZIMBABWE. "Zimbabwe had very difficult and inhuman socio political experiences traceable from the pre colonial, the colonial and post colonial eras which need to be dealt with urgently. It would be a mistake, in the search for lasting reconciliation, simply to ask people to forget the past. Reconciliation is needed not only in the nation at large but also in the Church, for we see simmering tension in some of our parishes due to language and ethnic differences. In Africa, when we talk of justice we certainly talk of affected parties including their families. Communities need to sit together and discuss their problems in a 'palaver scenario'. And retributive and restorative justice should be established before the death of either party in a case. Issues of justice in the Church are obvious in not paying our workers enough that constitutes a just wage and in the misuse of Church resources by priests at the expense of the communities. Some Church practices tend to have a bias against the girl child. For example, the girl is punished while the boy is not. As a local Church, we have set up structures such as Commission for Justice and Peace to address negative historical aspects of our experience".
BISHOP ARMANDO UMBERTO GIANNI O.F.M. CAP., OF BOUAR, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTRAL AFRICAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE. "We have the delicate but necessary task of helping those priests who have problems to return to the way of truth. We wait for the Synod to express a clear and convincing word in this field. Then there is the greater challenge: how to help priests form true priestly families. One senses the need to have a directory for priestly life. ... The Church has continued to be present everywhere in our country. Even in the so called red zones, that is the unstable areas; she has continued to attend to her work in education and healthcare, close to displaced and handicapped people. I would like to point out the willingness of staff at the missions, in this setting of insecurity, to assure a service of mediation between government and rebel forces, at times even with bandits. ... The Church's voice is heard and sought after because it is credible".
BISHOP GIOVANNI INNOCENZO MARTINELLI, O.F.M., APOSTOLIC VICAR OF TRIPOLI, LIBYA. "We know that on the African continent there are more than ten million displaced persons, migrants looking for a country, a land of peace. The phenomenon of this exodus reveals the face of injustice and socio-political injustice in Africa. We in Libya have intense experience of this tragedy. ... People come to Libya to be rejected by Europe. Thousands of immigrants enter Libya every year from sub-Saharan African countries. Most of them are fleeing from war and poverty in their own lands and come to Libya, where they look for jobs to help their families or as a means to reach Europe in the hope of finding a better and more secure life. ... For many immigration is a tragedy, especially because they fall victim to trafficking and exploitation (in particular women), and their human rights are disregarded. However we thank the Lord for their Christian witness. It is a community that suffers and searches, precarious but full of joy in the expression of faith, making the Church credible in a Muslim social and religious context, living the dialogue of life with many Muslims".
BISHOP JOSE NAMBI OF KWITO-BIE, ANGOLA. "The absence of true civic education of citizens is evident, something that favours manipulation. This, associated with illiteracy in rural areas, makes for a very unstable situation. People's critical faculties are weak. Some of them believe everything they are told by the social communication media. Because of this it is vital to promote the civil education of citizens and reinforce their critical awareness. This also means promoting the defence of freedom of expression and of opinion, as a democratic prerogative. ... The laity who are members of various civil institutions, of political parties, of parliament, are called to be true witnesses of reconciliation, of justice and of peace. Therefore, we believe it is fundamental to continue to invest in their formation at all levels".
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