MESSAGE ON THE
OF THE JOHN PAUL II FOUNDATION FOR THE SAHEL
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary
of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.,
Secretary of State, addressed a letter to those taking part in the commemorative
celebrations in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The following is a translation of the
Cardinal’s letter, which was written in French and dated 6 February 2009.
Pope Benedict XVI
addresses his cordial greetings to the participants at the Foundation’s solemn
commemorative celebration that is taking place in Ouagadougou, assuring them of
his fervent prayers. Following the appeal to the whole world launched by Pope
John Paul II on 10 May 1980 for the countries of the Sahel particularly affected
by drought, hunger and desertification, the
Foundation undertook to guarantee
the Catholic Church’s special aid in the fight against the evils that undermine
the dignity of these populations.
Pope John Paul II’s
prophetic gesture, deeply appreciated by the local peoples, has enabled
Christians to work for the benefit of all, without distinction, in collaboration
with Muslims and with those who practise the African Traditional Religion. On
this anniversary, the Holy Father wishes to mention in particular the names of
Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, then President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and
of Cardinal Paul Zoungrana, Archbishop of Ouagadougou, who, together with the
latter’s predecessor, were in a certain way the “Fathers” of the Foundation –
without forgetting Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who was its first legal
representative, and Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the current President of the
Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
Pope Benedict XVI
gives thanks to God for the work achieved under the direction of the successive
General Secretaries during the past 25 years thanks to the solidarity of several
local Churches, especially of the Italian Bishops’ Conference and of the
faithful in Germany. He prays the Lord that the generosity of all may enable the
Foundation to persevere effectively in its fight against the evils that prevent
the peoples in the countries of the Sahel from achieving authentic development.
The journey which the
Holy Father will be making to
Africa in the month of March, in addition to the
celebration in Rome in October of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the
Synod of Bishops, are eloquent signs of the important place that the African
continent occupies in the life of the universal Church and of the special
affection that Pope Benedict XVI feels for the whole of Africa. He is pleased
that the Jubilee of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel should be marked
by these events.
cordially imparts an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to the generous donors, as
well as to all those who are taking part in the commemorative celebrations for
the 25th anniversary.
L'Osservatore Romano, English edition
25 February 2009, p. 11