The Holy See
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The economic and social development of Africa
in the age of globalization


On 21 May, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace organized a Symposium focussed on the social and economic issues that involve Africa, marked today by the phenomenon of globalization. Taking part in it were the highly qualified Ambassadors of the African Countries accredited to the Holy See. This Declaration lists the most important points that emerged at the meeting, which took place in a spirit of constructive collaboration.

1. The Holy Father John Paul lI, who has always shown a special fondness for Africa and looks at it with love and hope, sent a Message to the Symposium filled with instructions and encouragement.

The Pope has once again expressed his confidence in the African peoples and asks everyone not to give in to the widespread, injurious forms of scepticism that threaten those who want to tackle the problems of Africa:  "May the International Community contribute with determination and generosity to promoting a society of justice and peace on the African Continent!".

2. The atmosphere of dialogue among the participants has fostered a candid reflection on the many sensitive problems that hinder the progress of the African Continent:  numerous armed conflicts, pandemic diseases, situations of wretchedness and poverty, political instability, social insecurity... are tragic realities that urgently call for a radically new approach to the African Continent. Some encouraging signs came from the discussion, which give rise to well-founded hopes for the progress of the Continent. However, Africa needs renewed forms of solidarity at the bilateral and multilateral levels which will be shown by a more decisive commitment by all, in the full awareness that the good of the African peoples is an indispensable condition for achieving the universal common good.

3. Those taking part in the Symposium are unanimous in believing that the African peoples should be the subjects and protagonists of their own future and their own cultural, civil, social and economic development. The right of the African Peoples to development should be pursued as a new path for their development. It is a matter of a fundamental perspective, widely emphasized for its considerable moral, cultural and political importance which must influence every approach to the question of African development.

Africa as an object of assistance must indeed become the subject of a convinced and crucial partnership. The pursuit of this goal will require a new political culture that can guide international cooperation despite the current difficulties which challenge such a partnership to meet them. In this context, the failure to keep repeated promises concerning Public Aid for Development and the as yet unresolved question of an international debt that continues to plague African countries in particular, are serious obstacles that urgently need to be overcome.

4. The Symposium participants have drawn attention to the timeliness of strengthening the relationship between Africa and the Catholic Church. For Catholics, this relationship is primarily inspired by the communio of faith, hope and charity, outlined in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church's many extraordinary initiatives for human advancement should be coordinated better and developed in a common perspective by an increasing exchange of gifts between the Church in Africa and the universal Church. The Church in Africa, which has given the Church as a whole some of its most outstanding men and women, offers a most valuable witness for the good of the African peoples and of humanity.

Cardinal Renato R. Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace