The Holy See Search



4-25 OCTOBER 2009

The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.
"You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Mt 5:13,14)

This Bulletin is only a working instrument for the press.
Translations are not official.

English Edition


07 - 06.10.2009






After voting on the Commission for the Message, the following Fathers intervened. The summaries were received after the closing of the previous Bulletin:

- H. Em. Card. Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (VATICAN CITY)
- H. Em. Card. Emmanuel WAMALA, Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala (UGANDA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Vincent LANDEL, S.C.I. di Béth., Archbishop of Rabat, President of the Episcopal Conference of Northern Africa (C.E.R.N.A.) (MOROCCO)
- H. Exc. Mons. Jean-Noël DIOUF, Bishop of Tambacounda, President of the Episcopal Conference (SENEGAL)
- H. Exc. Mons. Giorgio BERTIN, O.F.M., Bishop of Djibouti, Apostolic Administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Mogadiscio (SOMALIA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Michael Dixon BHASERA, Bishop of Masvingo (ZIMBABWE)
- H. Exc. Mons. Sithembele Anton SIPUKA, Bishop of Umtata (SOUTH AFRICA)
- H. Exc. Mons. Jean MBARGA, Bishop of Ebolowa (CAMEROON)
- H. Exc. Mons. Thomas KABORÉ, Bishop of Kaya (BURKINA FASO)

The summaries of the interventions are published below:

- H. Em. Card. Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (VATICAN CITY)

Catholic education centers have had a very important role in the work of evangelization and have greatly contributed to the social and cultural development of the continent. It is at the level of teaching and education that the Church in Africa has had to face up to its greatest challenge.
a) The most important education is that of seminarians. As regards seminaries, the Congregation for Catholic Education (CEC) in mission territories is only responsible “as regards the general study plan” and not for “formation”. As regards education in the seminaries, it should be underlined that 70 institutes are already affiliated to an ecclesiastical faculty, and specifically to the Urbanian Pontifical University (this is one sixth of all the affiliated seminaries in the world), which is obliged to carry out regular checks on teaching. As regards this, though, there are concerns about the sometimes absent organic link between the teaching of philosophy, which often takes place elsewhere or in an unsuitable institution, and the teaching of theology.
But the most serious problems regarding the formation of the clergy in Africa (suitable discernment, spiritual and emotional formation, etc) lie beyond the responsibilities of the CEC, even if teaching and priestly formation are closely linked. From the perspective of formation, it is required that each nation formulate an appropriate “Ratio institutionis sacerdoatalis” (expressly requested by the Council: OT, 1) and approved by the competent authority of the Holy See that should draw up a suitable general rule as requested by the First General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1967. Furthermore, regular and qualified apostolic visits are required along with a constant concern for the formation of the educators, and in a particular way a solid spiritual formation for those priests who study in Rome, insofar as they, principally, will be the teachers and educators in the seminaries.
b) As regards Catholic schools in Africa, their presence is significant: almost 12,500 nursery schools with over 1,260,000 pupils; over 33,250 primary schools with about 14,000,000 pupils; and almost 10,000 secondary schools with about 4,000,000 pupils. This enormous reality offers the Church a precious instrument for evangelization, dialogue and service to the peoples of the continent. It is important that these schools maintain and reinforce their clear Catholic identity. This demands that the formation of the teachers be not only professional but also spiritual, to be able to consider their work as an apostolate to be performed.
c) As regards institutes of higher education, their number has multiplied in the last few decades. Today there are 23 Catholic universities, 5 theological faculties and 3 philosophical faculties. All these institutions form a privileged place from which to evangelize cultures and form upright men, workers for peace and reconciliation, witnesses to faith. As regards these I would like to propose some useful devices:
- It is pleasing to underline the effort made by the ecclesiastical faculties as regards the problem of inculturation; this requires great evangelical wisdom and has to be faced up to seriously in the light of the Church’s teaching.
- In all Catholic universities, theological thought has to be present with at least chairs of theological teaching for lay people, of the Church’s social doctrine, etc.
- Nowadays particular importance has to be paid to forming highly trained Catholics to work in the mass media, “they are the new aeropagus of our century”.
- The pastoral also needs to be intensified in the state universities.

[00033-02.03] [IN008] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Em. Card. Emmanuel WAMALA, Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala (UGANDA)

I rejoice with those particular Churches who are "raising a hymn of thanksgiving for the release from dictatorial regimes".
What we may not realize is that a new breed of dictators is replacing the former ones. We may prefer to call these ‘mild dictators’, but they are all the same dictators.
"The culture of democratic principles" mentioned in texts is not what they intend to cultivate. In fact they do not believe in any solid democratic principle. They believe in one principle and that principle is POLITICAL ENGINEERING. In most countries of Africa, the politics we are experiencing is Godless politics. It is this style of leadership which breeds conflicts. The general political scenario in the continent of Africa and Madagascar is clearly stated in the following words, in no.23: "They (our leaders) foster division to secure their rule (and sometimes that of their children). In some places, the party in power tends to identify itself with the State." Examples abound of situations of this kind in many countries of Africa; and that is the trend!
The ministry of Reconciliation which has been entrusted to us, as we read in 2Cor 5:18, is an extremely challenging task. We must go to the root causes of the conflicts and even wars. Leadership without sound principles is, in my view, the main one.
How shall we address this problem? I see no other way other than education. We should influence family and formal education to include basic democratic principles which we find in the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The structures we have in the Church, starting from the family, Small Christian Communities, the schools and others, are some of the fora in which, with prudence, the training of principled leadership could be conducted. It is also there that reconciling individual groups and tribes could be initiated.

[00034-02.02] [IN009] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Vincent LANDEL, S.C.I. di Béth., Archbishop of Rabat, President of the Episcopal Conference of Northern Africa (C.E.R.N.A.) (MOROCCO)

Sub-Saharan students in the Maghreb: more than 30,000
- They discover a world where Islam is societal and where there is practically no religious freedom for a person from the Maghreb.
- They discover injustice in the fact that grants are given to the powerful and the more fortunate families.
- For some of them, the Church is their inspiration and they are the life of our Christian communities.
How the Church can help these young people to regroup to reflect on their future without discouraging them.
- These students discover the social message of the Church and her witness of peace.
- Shouldn’t the Church evangelize, starting from the Compendium?
- These students and interns discover this world of Islam with which they must reconcile themselves; but at the same time, they are open to other worlds, other cultures, other religions. This is what allows for reconciliation.
- May the Church in the Maghreb help them open up to the world.
- May the Church in Africa help them become responsible Christians.

[00035-02.03] [IN010] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Jean-Noël DIOUF, Bishop of Tambacounda, President of the Episcopal Conference (SENEGAL)

1. The description of a liturgy of penance in Ndut (Senegal) in the past.
If forgiveness was given, reconciliation was celebrated joyfully. On the contrary, sometimes a man died, killed by a representative of the other side.
2. Reflections by the members of the Episcopal Conferences of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, in five statements:
1st point: Reconciliation, justice and peace must have humility, love, conversion. In other words, “A new heart and a new spirit”.
2nd point: Christians during Mass, pagans in life. We must become “disciples” of Christ once again.
3rd point: The tempest of globalization. We must resist this by building huts that resist, evangelized and evangelizing Christian communities.
4th point: To be the “salt and light” to keep Africa from corruption and weakening: to maintain the Gospel and the African values.
5th point: A Eucharistic Congress to delve into the results of the Synod.
3. To turn to pastoral programming which is being tested in French-speaking West Africa.

[00036-02.03] [IN011] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Giorgio BERTIN, O.F.M., Bishop of Djibouti, Apostolic Administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Mogadiscio (SOMALIA)

For many years, on the anniversary of the death of Mons. Salvatore Colombo OFM, Bishop of Mogadishu, killed on July 9th 1989, I started to remember during Mass not only him but also a series of other people who have been killed while they were on duty for justice, peace and poor people in Somalia. Among them there were some Catholics, such as Dr Fumagalli, Annalena Tonelli and Sister Leonella; there were some“Protestants” brothers; there were some Somalian Muslims and they were the majority in this Muslim country: there were also other people who did not belong to any faith. I call the 9th of July “the day of the Somalian Martyrs”. We need this day to remember that many people of various beliefs have sacrificed their lives for more justice, more fraternity and more peace in Somalia.
It is not only we Catholics who want reconciliation, justice and peace in Somalia or in Africa. There have been many other people and institutions of good will. Two Sundays ago the Gospel was telling us “Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:40). This means that we have the duty to cooperate with everybody.
Concretely we suggest some points that are not exhaustive, thinking either of Somalia and of Africa: 1) remembering “together with the others” the best people who served to do good for a certain people; 2) to have moments of prayers together with the believers of other faiths in favor of peace; 3) stop trafficking in arms and the free movement of war criminals; 4) invite the international community to greater cooperation not only in the fight against piracy, but also for the reconstruction of the Somalian State; 5) cooperate with Muslims of good will to isolate and neutralize the evil work of radical Islamic groups that are the cause of problems first of all for Muslims themselves and for others; 6) to support and develop the actions of the Holy See and its diplomats.

[00037-02.03] [INN01] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Exc. Mons. Michael Dixon BHASERA, Bishop of Masvingo (ZIMBABWE)

Our Christian faithful are bound by a traceable common culture expressed in a plethora of variations. This cultural heritage that gives us identity is under threat of extinction through historical accidents, natural processions and human design. The Church-Family of God in Africa can never be authentic if its cultural base, which is rich and can be used to solve a lot of problems, is eroded.
Our challenges emanate both from the process of globalization and local factors. This is compounded by complex man-made problems such as corruption, greediness, oppression and totalitarian rule. We hope this Synod will address this area adequately.
We draw our strength from our relationship with Christ. We nourish this relationship through sacraments especially the Sacrament of Eucharist in which we are moulded into the Family of God and everyone is commissioned to be an agent of reconciliation, healing, justice and peace.
The idea of relationships appeals to Africa within her cultures. Through our participation in the Sacraments, we are bound by ONE BLOOD, the Blood of Christ. Sacramental bondage can be stronger than the biological bond that binds families. This highlights the African family values of solidarity, sharing, respect, hospitality, togetherness and reconciliation through restorative justice.
The Church-Fami1y becomes a visible sign and instrument of true justice, peace and reconciliation if understood and lived well. After the palaver, genuine reconciliation is expressed in a concrete way through restitution and restoration.
Some of our people turn to other sects or to witchcraft in the face of difficulties. It is also painful when Catholics turn against fellow Catholics in conflicting political, social, economic or regional scenarios. The problem is of inadequate knowledge of the meaning of the Church as a Family [of God]. This Catechesis should begin in the family and continue in our institutions of education, health, social development and formation houses. When the faithful have reached an understanding of “who we are”, they can begin to move towards Ecumenical dialogue and foster reconciliation, justice and peace.

[00038-02.04] [IN013] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Sithembele Anton SIPUKA, Bishop of Umtata (SOUTH AFRICA)

After many decades of conflict and tension, South Africa managed to negotiate a peaceful solution to its political problems as a country and created democratic structures and policies that make for peace. The problem, however, is that these principles of democracy have not filtered down to the grassroots. While the country is transformed legally and politically, at their daily human level of personal relationships, people still operate under the old system, perceiving themselves as still different and even enemies of each other.
What this indicates is that it is easier to change external structures than to change mentality, and until both the external structures and mentality change, democracy will not be appreciated and upheld in South Africa. The Church, whose primary focus of its evangelizing work is the change of heart, can make a significant contribution in this regard.

[00039-02.02] [IN014] [Original text: English]

- H. Exc. Mons. Jean MBARGA, Bishop of Ebolowa (CAMEROON)

For the present Synod, the Church-Family of God in Africa has the mission to contribute to the reconstruction of Africa, the prey of many crises yet rich in potential in the renewal of her pastoral, based on an ecclesiology open to the challenges of society: Which Africa for the Church? Which Church for Africa?
In its many dimensions, this mission consists in extinguishing conflicts, rebuilding the home Africa on the rock of the Gospel and faith, in such a way that:
- There where Christian faith is weak or does not exist, the ecclesial communities may give a witness of evangelic life, ecclesial experience and social commitment;
- There where culture is torn between tradition and globalization, the Church may inspire humanizing cultural works that spread the true values of human dignity;
- There where the State exploits the people, the ecclesial communities may commit towards democracy and good governing of material goods and persons, the culture of the free and the gift;
- There where wars and rebellion rage, may there be a movement by all towards peace.
To be the sign and the instrument of these values, the Church-Family as servant, therefore will be a Church that lives in peace and may give peace, which evangelizes itself and evangelizes society.
- She will be a Church, mother and teacher, who gives Africa a chart of values.
- A Church, advocate and prophetic, which organizes the pleas in favor of politics, legislations and social structures enlightened by an African and Christian humanism.
- A mediating Church that reconciles the opposing parties, works to prevent conflicts and permanently animates social dialogue.
- A mobilizing Church that promotes a militant associative apostolate and a leadership of lay faithful, a clergy and consecrated persons formed for today’s society.
- A communicating Church that produces, with new technologies, works spreading and African and Christian culture.
- An acting Church, through her well-placed social works and her pastoral programs that promote health, education and productive work.
This Synod could propose the creation of more specialized missions or commissions that could clarify and intensify this ecclesiology and this pastoral openness to the challenges of today’s society.

[00040-02.03] [IN015] [Original text: French]

- H. Exc. Mons. Thomas KABORÉ, Bishop of Kaya (BURKINA FASO)

Teaching justice and peace is the main mission of the Church-Family of God. The children of God are the peacemakers; the Lord Jesus proclaims: “blessed be the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. If the Church in Africa is the Family of God, she is the place of reconciliation, justice and peace.
In a continent torn by conflicts and battles, it is God who invites us to be a Church-Family, a place of reconciliation, of justice and of peace. For this reason, the Fathers at the first Synod for Africa “ recognized that the Church as Family cannot reach her full potential as Church unless she is divided into communities small enough to foster close human relationships... Above all, these communities are to be committed to living Christ's love for everybody, a love which transcends the limits of the natural solidarity of clans, tribes or other interest groups.” (Ecclesia in Africa n no. 89)
To take this mission on, we must work towards transforming our Base Christian Communities. They must become true families: this means conversion, “care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust”. (Ecclesia in Africa n no. 63) Thus let us call these small Communities, Family-Communities. They are the ones that give the Church her face and her reality as a family, to make them places of reconciliation.
The essential part of work to achieve this edification of the family, is above all Evangelization. The first goal; of these Family-Communities is to be Schools of Evangelization; it is important that the whole Church become a communion of family-communities and that the whole Church be evangelized; that is to say, internally renewed and becoming a new humanity. This presupposes that the shepherds become itinerant preachers of the Good News, going from community to community.
Evangelization will be less a question of method and technique than of witness: “Genuine witness by believers is essential to the authentic proclamation of the faith in Africa today. In particular they should show the witness of sincere mutual love”. (Ecclesia in Africa n no. 77)
To build the Church-Family of God thus is to incite Family-Communities to be true families of God, places of integration between Christians of different ethnic groups, regions and social conditions.

[00041-02.04] [IN016] [Original text: French]


At the closing of the Third General Congregation, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops announced that the Holy Father Benedict XVI decided to offer a gift to all the Synodal Fathers and the other participants in the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the medal commemorating his Apostolic Visit to Cameroon and Angola. (March 17-23, 2009) The medal was created by the sculptress Eva Olah, for the Società Johnson 1832 of Baranzate, a province of Milan. Its diameter is 50 mm. On one side is the portrait of the Holy Father, and the commemorative inscription of the Apostolic Visit “Benedictus XVI P.M. *Cammarunia-Angola* XVII-XXIII Martii MMIX”. On the reverse is the reproduction of a lit candle that symbolically illuminates the African continent, an interpretation of Matthew’s verse: “Vos estis lux mundi”.

[00049-02.02] [00000] [Original text: Italian]


Return to:

- Index Bulletin Synodus Episcoporum - II Ordinary Special Assembly for Africa - 2009
  [Plurilingual, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish]

- Index Holy See Press Office
[English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish]