CONSIGNMENT OF THE INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS
DISCOURSE OF HIS EXCELLENCY,
Most Holy Father,
At the conclusion of this most beautiful and well-attended Eucharistic liturgy, celebrated in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in the heart of Africa, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, with the Bishop of Rome as principal celebrant, I have the honour of extending to Your Holiness, together with the bishop-representatives of the African episcopate, renewed, heartfelt best wishes on your name day. These sentiments are accompanied by special prayers for your beloved person and mission as Universal Pastor of the Church, which is essential for the charity, unity and communion of our Holy Mother, the Church.
In the Gospel passage proclaimed earlier, St. Joseph is described as vir iustus, "a just man" (cf. Mt 1:19). In fact, attentive to the action of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, he accepted and put into practice the divine will. He did what was just in the eyes of God the Father. In this way he rendered justice to Mary, his wife, and the Child Jesus, his foster child on earth. In addition to other things, he guided them into exile from "the land of Israel" to Egypt, part of the African continent, to escape Herod’s wrath (cf. Mt 2:13-20). All Africa rejoices to have provided refuge to Jesus, his mother and Joseph, the just man, when they had to abandon their homeland. It could be said that, despite the many agonizing happenings in human history since that time, the bond between Jesus Christ and Africa, linking him to his earthly family, has never been broken because of the presence of Christians, his disciples, who live on this great continent and work on its behalf.
The remembrance of St. Joseph, the "just", on this solemn feast, celebrated together with you, Holy Father, has a connection to the topic of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops: The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: 'You Are the Salt of the Earth... You Are the Light of the World' (Mt 5:13, 14). The Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops took this subject and drafted the Instrumentum laboris, the work-document for the next synodal assembly, which is to take place this year, from 4 to 25 October in Rome, the city made holy by the blood of Sts. Peter and Paul. This document is a summary of the observations gathered from the episcopal conferences and the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris in Africa as well as those from the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General. The text is available in 4 languages: French, English, Portuguese and Italian.
Holy Father, in the name of the African episcopate, I thank Your Holiness for having re-confirmed the decision of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Its aim will be to authenticate the extraordinary dynamism of the Church in Africa and raise a hymn of thanksgiving to Divine Providence. At the same time, it will seek, under your wise and loving guidance, to respond to the numerous challenges of the present moment and devise guidelines, in communion with the African bishops, for a more prosperous and blessed future in evangelization and human promotion for the Church and people of good will, in short, for all the "just" of this great continent. We entrust this wish to the intercession of the African saints, martyrs and confessors of the faith. In particular, we entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is qualified to bear the title "Our Lady of Africa", because Africa is the land where she spent many years in hiding. With her motherly protection, she will surely guide the Gospel path to reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa.
So that each member of the Church in Africa can make due preparation for this synodal assembly with prayer, commitment and a proper reflection, I now call upon Your Holiness, as President of the Synod of Bishops, to consign to the presidents of the episcopal conferences of Africa the Instrumentum laboris of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.