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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)

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Translations are not official.

English Edition


04 - 05.10.2009




Yesterday, October 4th 2009, the day we remember St. Francis of Assisi, at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration with the Synod Fathers on the occasion of the opening of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, in the Basilica of Saint Peter, cadenced by African songs, where several African languages were used to pray, the Holy Father Benedict XVI went to the window of his office in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and the pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square. In introducing the Marian prayer, the Pope said: “My venerable predecessor John Paul II called for the first ‘African Synod’ in 1994, in view of the year 2000 and the Christian third millennium. He, with his missionary zeal, made many pilgrimages to the African continent, he drew the content that emerged from that meeting in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, launching evangelization in the continent once again. After fifteen years, this new Assembly continues in the first’s path, to verify what has been achieved, study some of the aspects and examine the most recent challenges. The theme chosen was: “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace” - accompanied by Christ’s words to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth... You are the Light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14). The Synod always constitutes an intense ecclesial experience, an experience of collegial pastoral responsibility towards a specific aspect of the Church’s life, or, as in this case, of a part of the Christian People determined by geographical area. The Pope and his close collaborators meet with the designated Members of the Assembly, with the Experts and Auditores, to delve into the chosen theme. It is important to underline that this is not a study meeting, nor a programming assembly. Reports and interventions are heard in the Hall, there are discussions in the language groups, but we all know too well that we are not the protagonists: it is the Lord, it is His Holy Spirit, that guides the Church. The most important thing, for all, is to listen: listen to each other and, all together listen to what the Lord wants to tell us. For this, the Synod takes place in an atmosphere of faith and prayer, in religious obedience to the Word of God. Peter’s Successor is entrusted with the duty to call and lead the Synod Assemblies, gather everything that has come from the works and then offer the appropriate pastoral indications. Dear friends, Africa is a Continent that has extraordinary human riches. Today, its population is approximately one billion inhabitants and the birth rate on the whole is the highest in the world. Africa is a land fertile in human life, but unfortunately this life is marked by much poverty and suffers from severe injustices. The Church is committed to overcoming this, with the force of the Gospel and the concrete solidarity of many institutions and charitable initiatives. We pray the Virgin Mary that she may bless the II Synod Assembly for Africa and achieve peace and development for this great and beloved Continent”.
Then after the Marian prayer, the Pope added in various languages: (in Italian) At the end of the Angelus this special Sunday, when I opened the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, I cannot forget the conflicts that are presently threatening the peace and security of the peoples of the African continent. In these days I have followed with apprehension the serious episodes of violence that have shaken the population of Guinea. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims, I invite the parties to dialogue and reconciliation, and I am certain that they will spare no effort in reaching a fair and just solution. Next Saturday afternoon, October 10th, along with the Synodal Fathers, I will lead a special rosary in the Paul VI Hall “with Africa and for Africa”, with the participation of Rome’s university students. African university students in a number of countries will unite with them in prayer via satellite. Dear university students, I await you in great numbers to entrust to Mary Sedes Sapientiae the journey of the Church and society in the African continent. (In French) Today I open the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. I ask you to support the reflections and works of the Synod Fathers through your prayer. I also invite you to pray for the beloved African continent, which I visited last March. May God bless it and bring it peace, reconciliation and justice, and may He give the Church in Africa the strength and courage to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”, to witness true life in Jesus Christ, I entrust this Synod to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, protector of Africa! May God bless you! (In English) I invite all of you to join me in praying for the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which opened this morning in St Peter’s Basilica. May this great ecclesial event strengthen the Church in Africa in her witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in her efforts to promote reconciliation, justice and peace among its peoples. May the Synod also help turn the eyes of the world to that great continent and inspire renewed solidarity with our African brothers and sisters. As we entrust these prayers to the intercession of Our Lady, I invoke upon you and your families God’s blessings of joy and peace. (In German) With the Holy Mass in St Peter’s this morning we open the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The theme states: “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.” To truly be the salt of the earth and light of the world, we need God’s mercy. We pray therefore to the Lord that he may render our brothers in faith in Africa, and ourselves, ambassadors of reconciliation, peace and justice. I wish you all a holy Sunday.
At the center of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops will be the themes of reconciliation, justice and peace that were dealt with - 15 years ago - in the first Special Assembly dedicated to Africa which is still lacerated by genocide,, civil wars, AIDS, famine and numerous other sores. “When we speak of the treasures of Africa - underlined Pope Benedict XVI in his homily yesterday - our thoughts immediately turn to the resources its land is rich in and that, unfortunately, have become and often continue to be a reason for exploitation, conflict and corruption.” “Instead - he emphasized - the Word of God makes us look at another inheritance: the spiritual and cultural one of which humanity has even greater need than it does of raw materials.” The Pope underlined that “Africa represents an enormous spiritual “lung” for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope. But this “lung” can take ill as well. And, at the moment, at least two dangerous pathologies are attacking it: first of all, an illness that is already widespread in the West, that is, practical materialism, combined with relativist and nihilist thinking. Without entering into the merit of the origins of such sicknesses of the spirit, there is absolutely no doubt that the so-called “First” World has exported up to now and continues to export its spiritual toxic waste that contaminates the peoples of other continents, in particular those of Africa. In this sense, colonialism which is over at a political level, has never really entirely come to an end. But from this same point of view we also have to point out a second “virus” that could hit Africa, that is, religious fundamentalism, mixed together with political and economic interests. Groups who follow various religious creeds are spreading throughout the continent of Africa: they do so in God’s name, but following a logic that is opposed to divine logic, that is, teaching and practicing not love and respect for freedom, but intolerance and violence.” The Church in Africa can make a “great contribution to all of society”, the Pope underlined. “Reconciliation, a gift of God that men must implore and embrace, is the stable foundation upon which one builds peace, the necessary condition for the true progress of men and society, according to the project of justice wanted by God. In recent years the Catholic Church in Africa has known great dynamism,” recalled Benedict XVI, turning to the lay faithful as well, “called to spread the perfume of the holiness in the family, in workplaces, in schools and in every other social and political field.” To protect children with a maternal hand, “even before they are born” was one of the exhortations Benedict XVI made yesterday to Africa: “ The reality of childhood that constitutes a large and, unfortunately, suffering part of the African population.” Children for whom the Church “ in Africa, and in every other part of the planet, demonstrates her maternal concern” “even before they are born”. Taking up “briefly a suggestion that precedes any moral reflection or instruction, and that is still connected to the primacy of the sense of the sacred and of God,” the Pope wanted to underline: “Matrimony, as it is presented to us in the Bible, does not exist outside of the relationship with God. Married life between a man and a woman, and therefore of the family that springs from that, is inscribed into the communion with God and, in the light of the New Testament, becomes the symbol of Trinitarian love and the sacrament of the union of Christ with the Church. To the extent to which it looks after and develops its faith, Africa could discover immense resources to give in favor of the family that is built on matrimony.”

[00015-02.08] [RE000] [Original text: Italian]


This morning, Monday 5 October 2009, at 09:00 a.m., in the presence of the Holy Father, in the Synod Hall in Vatican City, with the chant of the Hour of Terce, the work of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began, with the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus.

The Holy Father Benedict XVI gave the following reflection.

Speaking of the action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope explained that it is only with that force that the Church can continue its work, and with his invocation, he prays that Pentecost be not only an event from the past but that it be recreated here and now. The Church, he explained, is not an organization, but the fruit of the Spirit towards the City of God that gathers together all cultures. And it is the tongue of fire itself that provides the right word, to achieve a real unity in plurality, collaborating in the creative act of God. There are three words to reflect on: “Confessio”, “Caritas” “Prossumus”. “Confessio,” said the Pope, is renewal and transformation because through God’s light we can see reality, know ourselves and then understand the reality of the world, and so bear witness and evangelize. Speaking of “Caritas”,the Holy Father recalled that Christianity is not just a collection of ideas, nor is it a philosophy: you become Christians out of love. Quoting the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, the Pope reminded us that charity is universal and concrete. Universality starts from love of our neighbor, “Prossumus”. The love that comes from the Holy Spirit, the Pope explained, calls on us to be actively responsible for our neighbor, which then becomes universal, to be the servants at this hour of the world.

[00016-02.04] [00000] [Original text: Italian]

The integral text of the Pope’s reflection will be published as soon as possible.

The Acting President for this session was His Em. Card. Francis ARINZE, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Divine Cult and Discipline of Sacraments (Vatican City).

The synodal assembly, opened yesterday by Benedict XVI who presided over the solemn Concelebration of the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Basilica, will gather together a representation of Prelates from around the world, on the theme
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)

After the Hour of Terce, the following intervened during this First General Congregation: the President-Delegate, - H. Em. Card. Francis ARINZE, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (VATICAN CITY), for the Greeting by the President-Delegate; His Exc. Most Rev. Msg. Nikola ETEROVIĆ, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops (VATICAN CITY), for the Report by the General Secretary.

After the pause, H. Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast (GHANA) intervened, for the Report before the Discussion by the General Reporter.

After the reading of the Relatio ante disceptationem there was a brief moment of free interventions.

The integral texts of the interventions given in the Hall are published below:


The First General Congregation of the
II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops concluded at 12.25 with the Prayer of the Angelus Domini led by the Holy Father.

There were 226 Synodal Fathers present.

The Second General Congregation will take place this afternoon 5 October 2008 at 4.30 p.m. for the Reports on the five Continents.


Most Holy Father,
The Bishops of Africa and Madagascar, and of the adjacent islands thank you for convoking this Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
The Church in Africa wants to be ever more faithful to that aspect of her mission which is to be at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.
Our continent has known avoidable suffering, injustice, oppression, repression, exploitation, tension, and war which drives people away from their homes and precipitates hunger and disease. But Africa has also known brotherly love, solidarity with the suffering, truth and reconciliation committees, regional help between countries and some steps towards integral development as Your Holiness spelt out in
Caritas in Ventate.
Our beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,is our peace (cf Eph 2:14). He taught us that what we do to the least of his brothers and sisters, we do to him (cf Mt 25:40). He forgave those who were crucifying him and prayed for them (cf Lk 23:34). He sent his Church to be the light of the word and to function like salt and leaven in society (cf Mt 5:13, 14; Mk 9:50; Lk 13:21). He has sent us his Holy Spirit.
Thank you, Holy Father, for having convoked representatives of the Bishops of Africa to reflect during these three weeks, together with the Heads of your Dicasteries in the Roman Curia and representatives of the Episcopate from the entire Catholic world, with the help of a highly qualified body of theological and other experts, and representatives of priests, consecrated people and lay faithful.
Bless us, Most Holy Father, as we get down to work. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may the work of this Synod help towards the promotion of reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa and Madagascar and also clarify better and intensify the role of the Church.

[00009-02.04] [RE000] [Original text: English]


Holy Father,
Your Eminences and Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“In the power of the Holy Spirit, I appeal to everyone: ‘Be reconciled to God!’ (2 Cor 5:20). No ethnic or cultural difference, no difference of race, sex or religion must become a cause for dispute among you. You are all children of the one God, our Father, who is in heaven. With this conviction, it will then be possible to build a more just and peaceful Africa, an Africa worthy of the legitimate expectations of all its children”[1].
With these words, Your Holiness displayed your apostolic concern and exercised your solicitude for the entire Church. In a particular way, inspired by the Holy Spirit who guides believers in their reading of Sacred Scripture, you used these words to express your love for the Church on pilgrimage in 53 countries in Africa and also for the entire African continent, a continent of great dynamism yet faced with many challenges. You pronounced these words in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, during your first Apostolic Visit to Africa from 17 to 23 March 2009. On this occasion you initiated, in ideal fashion, the work of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration in Amadou Ahidjo Stadium, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you presented the Instrumentum laboris to the presidents of the 36 episcopal conferences in Africa, the heads of the two synods of bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Egypt. This document is the basis for the work of our synodal assembly. At that moment, the stadium of Yaounde became the very heart of the continent, because closely joined to you as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Church were the bishops of the particular Churches, who represented “in some way the Church present among the peoples of Africa” [2]. At the same time, Your Holiness invited all the faithful to support their Pastors in prayer in the preparation and unfolding of the great ecclesial event of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Your Holiness then entrusted the celebration of the synodal assembly to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, invoking her intercession so that “the Queen of Peace might sustain the efforts of all who work for reconciliation, justice and peace!” [3]. Holy Father, during the meeting with the Special Council for Africa in the Apostolic Nunciature of Yaounde, you were the first to recite the Marian prayer which you yourself composed to sustain the preparation of the synodal assembly and to implore the abundant grace of the Holy Spirit in obtaining a renewed dynamism for the Church in Africa, which always seeks better to serve all people of good will on the continent. At the beginning of our synodal work, we too recite this prayer so that the discussion during the synodal assembly might contribute to increasing hope in the peoples of Africa and the entire continent, and that it might contribute to imbue each local Church in Africa “with new evangelical and missionary zeal in service to reconciliation, justice and peace, according to the programme given us by the Lord himself: ‘You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world’ (Mt 5:13-14). May the joy of the Church in Africa at the celebration of this Synod be shared by the universal Church!” [4].
Your Holiness, your wish is now being realized as seen in the representatives of the episcopates from the various continents who have willingly accepted your call to participate in this synodal assembly to show their nearness to the Catholic Church in Africa, a part of the Universal Church full of promise. Greetings, then, to the representatives of the episcopal conferences of the other four continents and to the bishops from 17 countries. Together with their brother-bishops from Africa, they are prepared to pray, dialogue and reflect on the present and future of the Catholic Church on the African continent. In this way, they become a part of the synod process of giving and receiving, of participating in Africa’s joys, sufferings, hopes and concerns and of sharing spiritual gifts for the edification of not only the particular Churches in Africa but the entire Holy Church of God spread throughout the whole world.
I extend heartfelt greetings to all 244 members of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, of whom 78 participate by reason of their office, 129 as elected members and 36 as papal appointments. Among these are 33 cardinals, 79 archbishops and 156 bishops. As for the office they hold, 37 are presidents of episcopal conference, 189 Ordinaries, 4 coadjutors, 2 auxiliaries and 8 (arch)bishops-emeritus.
I cordially welcome the fraternal delegates who represent 6 Churches and ecclesial communities, and express my gratitude for their having accepted the invitation to participate in this ecclesial event.
I also greet 29 experts and 49 auditors who are prepared to contribute their important testimony to the synodal proceedings by enriching the discussion.
I also wish to acknowledge the valuable collaboration of the assistants, translators and technical personnel, as well as the staff of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Without their skilled and generous contribution, this synodal assembly would not be possible.

The present report is composed of six parts:
I. The Significance of the Apostolic Visit to Africa
II. Some Statistical Data
III. The Convocation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa
IV. The Preparation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa
V. Methodological Observations
VI. Conclusion

I. The Significance of the Apostolic Visit to Africa

In a special manner, I wish to greet the 197 synod fathers from the countries of Africa. In their name, I thank Your Holiness for your Apostolic Visit to Africa which was organized in light of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. With this Special Assembly in mind, Your Holiness chose the same theme for your first pastoral visit to the African continent: “You are the salt of the are the light of the world” (Mt 5: 13, 14).
Thank you, Holy Father, for the edifying teachings given during your apostolic visitation to Africa. Even though the visit was limited to two countries, Cameroon and Angola, all of Africa took an interest. Furthermore, your visit led to the strengthening of the bonds uniting, in faith, hope and charity, the Bishop of Rome and your brother-bishops in the episcopate, who are the heads of the particular Churches of Africa. At the same time, your visit strengthened the bond between them and the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care. This is particularly true among men and women of good will on the African continent. In fact, the Gospel, the Good News, is addressed to every inhabitant of Africa and the entire world. Making reference to the life of St. Josephine Bakhita, canonized on 1 October 2000 by the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, Your Holiness proposed her splendid example in your wish that every man and women on the continent might be transformed by an encounter with the living God.
Today also, “the saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear, so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of people’s lives” [5]. The light of the Gospel scatters the darkness of sin, even in Africa, where men and women, longing to hear a word of pardon and hope, are willing to be transformed by Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent” [6]. These evils affect everyone in Africa, who “cry out for reconciliation, justice and peace which the Church offers them, not new forms of economic or political oppression, but the glorious freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21)” [7]. Every member of the Church is therefore called to become an apostle of the Gospel, to bring the Good News to every African. “Almost ten years into the new millennium, this moment of grace is a summons to all the bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful of the continent to rededicate themselves to the mission of the Church to bring hope to the hearts of the people of Africa, and indeed to people throughout the world” [8].
Holy Father, in light of the importance of your Message to the entire African continent and our synodal discussion on the Instrumentum laboris, the discourses from your Apostolic Visit are being made available in the following languages: French, English, Italian, Portugese and Spanish. Undoubtedly, these documents will be of great assistance to the synod fathers and will allow them to develop basic subjects related to the topic of the Second Special Assembly for Africa.

II. Some Statistical Data

Together we thank the Good and Merciful God for the many gifts bestowed on the Church in Africa which are placed at the service of all, especially the poorest of the poor and the most in need. In particular, we give thanks for its great dynamism witnessed in the following statistics.
In a world population of 6,617,097,000 inhabitants, the number of Catholics is 1,146,656,000, that is, 17.3%. However, the percentage in Africa is higher. In fact, out of 943,743,000 inhabitants, the number of Catholics is 164,925,00, namely 17.5%. This figure is very significant if one considers, for example, that, in 1978, at the beginning of the pontificate of Pope John Paul \pard softlineII, the number of African Catholics was about 55,000,000. In 1994, the year in which the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held, the number was 102,878,000 faithful, that is, 14.6% of the population in Africa.
In that same period, we also have a significant increase in the number of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. In fact, thanks be to God, a consistent increase is witnessed in all sectors, particularly among Christ’s faithful: bishops, priests, deacons, men and women in the consecrated life and committed lay people, among whom catechists occupy an important place. This is proven in a comparison of statistical data from 1994 with that of 2007.

  1994 9 2007 10 + %
Ecclesiastical territories 444 516 + 16,21
Bishops 513 657 + 28,07
Priests 23.263 34.658 + 49,09


12.937 23.154 + 78.97


10.326 11.504 + 11.40
Permanent Deacons 326 403 + 23,61
Non-Clerical Religious 6.448 7.921 + 22,84
Consecrated Religious 46.664 61.886 + 32,62
Members - Secular Institutes 390 578 + 48,20
Lay Missionaries  1.847 3.590 + 94,36
Catechists 299.994  399.932 + 33,31
Seminarians 17.125  24.729  + 44,40

We also give due honor to those in pastoral activity who have sealed their ecclesial service with the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. From 1994 to 2008, 521 pastoral workers have given their lives in Africa. Included in this number are the 248 victims of the tragedy in Rwanda in 1994 and, subsequently, 40 minor seminarians killed in Burundi, in1997. Not only Africans have given their lives, but also missionaries from many countries. For example, in 2006, 11 pastoral workers were killed: 5 diocesan priests, of whom 1 was Peruvian, and 4 religious, of whom 1 was Portuguese, 1 Brazilian, 1 an Italian religious and 1 a Portuguese lay missionary. In 2007, 4 pastoral workers lost their lives: 1 diocesan priest, 2 religious and 1 sister from Switzerland. In 2008, 5 missionaries died, of which 1 was a religious from England and 1 a brother from France.
The eyes of faith allow us to go beyond these statistics and see the great dynamism in evangelization on the African continent, which animates the generous and undivided commitment of pastoral workers, even to the point of giving their lives in martyrdom. With thanksgiving to Almighty God for this gift of his infinite mercy, we pray that this dynamism continues, indeed, that it be strengthened for the good of the particular Churches in Africa and the whole world. Undoubtedly, in this group of servants of the Gospel, the Pastors of the particular Churches will recognize candidates for canonization, according to Church norms, not only to increase the number of African saints, among whom many are martyrs, but also to obtain more intercessors in heaven to sustain the particular Churches of the continent so that they may continue, with renewed zeal, their earthly pilgrimage in praise of God and in service to others.
In addition to evangelization, which is the Church’s principal mission, the Catholic Church is also very much involved in charitable works, health, education and countless initiatives of human promotion in general. In this regard, we recall significant examples like the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, instituted on 22 February 1984 [11], during the Holy Year of Redemption, by the Pope himself, following his apostolic visit to Burkina Faso, and the memorable Ouagadougou Appeal of 10 May 1980. Eight years ago, 12 February 2001, Pope John Paul II established the “Good Samaritan” Foundation to sustain the sick who are most in need, above all, those suffering from AIDS [12].
On the African continent, then, there are:
Caritas on the national and international levels. In Africa, 53 Caritas programmes exist on the national level of which 20 have the added purpose of promoting solidarity and the integral development of the person and society. In some countries, the work of Caritas often coincides with the mission exercised by Justice and Peace Commissions. Caritas also exists in the Middle East and North Africa. The national programmes of Caritas are coordinated by Caritas Africa, which has its headquarters in Kampala, Uganda.
Justice and Peace Commissions. In addition to the Justice and Peace Secretariat of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar - SECAM, there are 8 regional and 34 national commissions associated with their proper episcopal conference. Moreover, numerous national and international Catholic organizations are doing their best to help the African population [13]. There are also 12 institutes and centres to promote the social doctrine of the Church [14].
Pastoral Health Care. The Catholic Church is extensively involved in the field of pastoral health care. According to available data from 2007 [15], 16,178 health institutions exist on the entire African continent, including 1,074 hospitals, 5,373 clinics, 186 leprosaria, 753 houses for the elderly and disabled persons, 979 orphanages, 1997 children’s daycare centres, 1590 marriage counseling centres, 2947 rehabilitation centres and 1279 various other health facilities. Obviously, this data stands as a laudable, important testimony to many Christians, above all, to persons in the consecrated life and lay Catholics who work tirelessly in the aforementioned health institutions. As regards the illnesses treated, statistics point to HIV/AIDS as the most alarming health emergency. In this regard, we gratefully note that, according to the data received by UNAIDS, 26% of the health institutions in the world, directly involved with the treatment of AIDS, are run by Catholic organizations [16]. The Catholic Church is in the forefront in the fight against the spread of this disease and is involved extensively in the care of those sick with AIDS, as seen, for example, in the DREAM Programme, promoted with much success by the St. Egidio Community.
Statistical data, however, highlights the unforgettable fact that malaria remains the major cause of death on the African continent. Qualified persons from the international community ought to increase efforts and means for its prevention and finding a remedy for this terrible, widespread sickness, which each year causes the death of about 1,000,000 persons in the world, of which 85% are children under the age of 5.
Catholic schools. The Catholic Church, as Mater et Magister, in addition to proclaiming the Gospel, has always promoted the integral formation of persons in her educational institutions. Today, this important work continues. In fact, in Africa, there are 12,496 pre-schools with 1,266,444 students; 33,263 elementary schools with 14,061,806 students; and 9,838 middle and high schools with 3,738,238 students. Higher institutions of learning are frequented by 54,362 students, of which 11,011 students are enrolled in ecclesiastical studies, and 76,432 are studying various disciplines at Church-sponsored Universities.

III. The Convocation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa

It took many years for the idea of convoking the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops to mature. The possibility first emerged in the final years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, while the late Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte was General Secretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. In fact, the idea was often discussed at many meetings of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
Even after my appointment as General Secretary in 2004, the subject continued to be raised. Pope John Paul II himself publicly referred to the idea on 15 June 2004 during an audience granted to the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat, by raising the following question: “Has not the time come to deepen this African synodal experience, for which many Pastors of Africa have been pressing? The exceptional growth of the Church in Africa, the rapid succession of Pastors, the new challenges that the continent must face demand responses that can stem only from a persevering and concerted effort to implement Ecclesia in Africa, thereby restoring renewed strength and more firmly-grounded hope to this continent in difficulty” [17].
For their part, the members of the Special Council for Africa expressed their gratitude to the Holy Father for his apostolic concern for their particular Churches and took up the question of planning with renewed vigour. During a meeting of the Special Council of Africa on 15 and 16 June 2004, the members agreed to leave the decision to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Africa to Pope John Paul II. The Council requested that the General Secretary make the formal proposal to the Holy Father to announce his decision on the 10th Anniversary of the celebration of the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. It was specifically suggested that the announcement be made on 13 November 2004, the 1650th anniversary of the birth of St. Augustine, Africa’s great son and glory of the universal Church. The date proved auspicious, because on that very day the SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) - CCEE (Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae) Symposium was taking place in Rome to recall the 10th Anniversary of the Synod for Africa. According to the members of the Special Council for Africa, a sufficient time was needed to prepare for the celebration, possibly to take place in October 2009 to coincide with the 15th Anniversary of the celebration of the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The topic could focus on the Church in Africa as the Family of God, called to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation, reconciliation, justice and peace.
The Servant of God, Pope John Paul II willingly welcomed this proposal. During a papal audience given to the participants gathered in Rome for the previously mentioned Symposium of Bishops of Africa and Europe, he said: “Welcoming the aspirations of the Post-Synodal Council, an expression of the hopes of African Pastors, I take the occasion to announce my intention to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops” [18]. At the same time, he entrusted this project to the prayers of the faithful, using the following words: “I entrust this project to your prayers, warmly inviting you all to implore the Lord for the precious gift of communion and peace for the beloved Land of Africa.” [19].
On another occasion, the pontiff expressed his support for the idea of a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. In a letter addressed to the General Secretary for the 13th Meeting of the Special Council for Africa, 24-25 February 2005, Pope John Paul II had expressed, among other things, his vision of the Second Synodal Assembly: “Noting the dynamism born from the experience of the First Synod for Africa, this Assembly will endeavour to examine it in greater depth and to extend it, relying on the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa and taking into account the new ecclesial and social data for the continent. Its task will be to support the local Churches and their Pastors and to help them in their pastoral initiatives, thus preparing for the future of the Church on the continent of Africa which, as far as peace is concerned, is experiencing political, economic and social unrest” [20]. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II listed some of the difficulties: armed conflict, persistent poverty and diseases with their devastating consequences, starting with the social drama of AIDS, corruption and the widespread sense of insecurity in various regions. The faithful, along with people of good will, must come together in constructing a prosperous and stable society, thereby guaranteeing a bright future for new generations. The Catholic Church gives thanks to God for the remarkable expansion she has experienced in recent decades. At the same time, the pontiff stated: “For this growth to continue, I encourage the Bishops to further the spiritual deepening of all that has been achieved, as well as of the human and Christian development of the clergy and laity [21]. Finally, entrusting the preparation of this Church event to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Africa, Pope John Paul II said: “May the future Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops also encourage the strengthening of faith in Christ Our Saviour, and genuine reconciliation!” [22].
On 2 April 2009, God, in his loving Providence, willed that Pope John Paul II pass to a better life. In the Conclave held that same month, on 19 April 2005, the cardinals elected as Bishop of Rome, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Two months after his election, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the convocation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. After due study in the matter, the Holy Father reconfirmed the decision of his predecessor. Greeting the members of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the Supreme Pontiff said: “Confirming what my Venerable and dear Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, decided last 13 November, I would like to announce my intention to convoke the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. I am very confident that this Session will effectively give an additional impetus to evangelization, to the consolidation and growth of the Church and to the promotion of reconciliation and peace on the continent of Africa” [23].
The official convocation of the synod took place on 28 June 2007, the vigil of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. On this occasion the synod topic and the dates of the celebration were announced: “The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has convoked the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on the topic, 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), to be held in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October 2009” [24].
After the Holy Father’s decision, the members of the Special Council immediately embarked on preparing for the synodal assembly.

IV. Preparation for the Second Special Assembly for Africa

With the maturation of the idea of a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the members of the Special Council undertook their task of preparing for the celebration of this ecclesial event in the best manner possible.
In the first place, the Lineamenta needed to be drafted, the document of preparation for the synodal assembly. Several meetings of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat were dedicated to this preparatory task.
During the meeting of 25 and 26 February 2005, the members of the Special Council for Africa agreed on the outline of the Lineamenta with specific recommendations on the document’s content. In a subsequent meeting, held on 21 and 22 June 2005, a draft was the object of intense study. On 13 January 2006, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI formulated the topic of the synod assembly. The members of the Special Council were then able to reflect with more precision on the draft of the document, suggesting various changes which were subsequently made to the text. This final version was sent by electronic mail to the members of the Special Council for Africa for their final consideration with the request that any suggested changes be sent to the General Secretariat by 24 April 2006. On 27 and 28 April 2006, two members of the Council, representatives from the French and English groups respectively, together with the General Secretariat, examined and incorporated these observations in the document which was then translated into 4 languages: French, Italian, English and Portuguese, to which an Arabic version was added.
The Lineamenta was published on 27 June 2006. The text was presented in the Holy See Press Office by His Eminence, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and by His Excellency, Most Rev. Nikola Eterovic, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. The document was widely distributed, in addition to its availability on the Vatican website at the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops’ webpages.
The episcopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and other concerned parties were asked to respond to the series of Questions in the Lineamenta and submit them to the General Secretariat by 31 October, 2008. These responses were used in drafting the Instrumentum laboris, the working-document for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

The Instrumentum laboris

The percentages of the responses to the Lineamenta were drawn up according to the institutions customarily consulted by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in synod preparation.

Institutions Responses %

Episcopal Conferences 36 25 30 83,33
International Meetings of Episcopal Conferences 6 26 1 16,66
Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris 2 27 1 50
Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt 1 0
Departments of the Roman Curia 25 28 14 56
Union of Superiors General 1 1 100

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops also received contributions from some Catholic Universities and Institutes of Higher Learning, as well as individuals, including the laity, who had at heart the present and future of the Catholic Church in Africa.
The submissions were thoroughly examined by the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops at the meeting of 27 and 28 October 2008. The Council members agreed on the outline of the document and made specific recommendations on its content, while, at the same time, remaining faithful to the contributions of the episcopates of each country.
With the assistance of experts, the General Secretariat drafted the document which was discussed at the 18th Meeting of the Special Council for Africa on 23 and 24 January 2009. After various changes were made to improve the text, the document was unanimously accepted.
The Instrumentum laboris was then translated into 4 languages: French, Italian, English and Portuguese. On 19 March 2009, in Yaounde, Cameroon, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI graciously presented a copy of the document to the heads of the synods of bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and the presidents of the episcopal conferences in Africa, for which we again express our heartfelt gratitude. Subsequently, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops widely distributed the document, which will be thoroughly examined during our synodal assembly.

The Appointment of Those with Special Roles at the Synodal Assembly

On 14 February 2009, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI appointed three Presidents-Delegate for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops: Cardinals Francis Arinze, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Théodore-Adrien Sarr, Archbishop of Dakar, Senegal and Wilfred Fox Napier, O.F.M., Archbishop of Durban, South Africa. At the same time, His Holiness appointed as General Rapporteur, His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana and two Special Secretaries: Their Excellencies, Most Rev. Antonio Damião Franklin, Archbishop of Luanda, Angola and Most Rev. Edmond Djitanger, Bishop of Sarh, Chad [29].

Recognition of the Work of the Members of the Special Council for Africa

Of the three Cardinals who were appointed as Presidents-Delegates by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, two were members of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. I am certain that the synod fathers gathered here wish to acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude the valuable ecclesial service rendered by the members of the Special Council for Africa. Of the 12 members elected on 7 May 1994, at the conclusion of the First Special Assembly for Africa, 9 have persevered to the end. In the interim, His Eminence, Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiandoum, Archbishop emeritus of Dakar, Senegal, passed to the Lord in 2003. We willingly recommend him to the infinite mercy of God. In 2006, one member resigned after reaching the age limit, His Eminence, Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, Archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, and in 2007, one stepped down for reasons of health, His Excellency, Most Rev. Paul Verdzekov, Archbishop emeritus of Bamenda, Cameroon. These were replaced respectively by: His Excellency, Most Rev. Anselme Titianma Sanon, Archbishop of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso; His Excellency, Most Rev. Odon Maria Arsène Razanakolona, Archbishop of Antananarivo; and His Excellency, Most Rev. Cornelius Fontem Esua, Archbishop of Bamenda, Cameroon.
With the commencement of this synodal assembly, the 15-year mandate of the members of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops comes to an end. Over this period of time, they participated in 19 meetings. The valuable service of the Special Council to the Church on pilgrimage in Africa can be divided into three phases. In the first, in the wake of the First Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the Council’s demanding task was to prepare a contribution to the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Holy Father to use in writing the document Ecclesia in Africa, which was signed by Pope John Paul II in Yaounde, 14 September 1995, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Subsequently, the Special Council encouraged the implementation of this important document. The third phase coincided with the preparation of this present synodal assembly.

V. Methodological Observations

In an audience granted me on 23 June 2007, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI approved the criteria for participation in this synod assembly, agreed upon by the Special Assembly for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops at a meeting held on 15 and 16 February 2007. After the Supreme Pontiff’s approval, these criteria were sent to the presidents of the episcopal conferences and the heads of the synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris.
According to the decision of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, all African cardinals, regardless of age, together with the presidents of the 36 episcopal conferences and the heads of the two Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris (Coptic and Ethiopian) were to participate as ex officio members, namely, in virtue of their office. To ensure an adequate representation of the episcopate, 1 bishop-representative was to be elected for every 5 bishops and fraction thereof based on the total membership of a given episcopal conference. In the process, the intention was that each country of Africa have at least one bishop-representative.
In conformity with the norms of the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, the Holy Father completed the number of synod fathers, by appointing representatives of episcopates from other continents or countries having a considerable number of Catholics of African origin. Also present are bishop-representatives from countries which offer significant assistance to the Catholic Church in Africa by providing missionaries and financial aid. Moreover, His Holiness has acknowledged the work of certain members of the Special Council for Africa, who for various reasons were not elected by their brother bishops, by appointing them as synod fathers.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the proposal of the Special Council to invite a significant number of men and women auditors involved in evangelization and human promotion in Africa. This is intended to provide an ample perspective, including that of lay people, on the life of the Church and society on the continent. Obviously, the work of experts is also important, primarily in assisting the two special secretaries in the course of their synod work.
At this time, pointing out some recently implemented methodological procedures might be useful in facilitating the work of this synodal assembly and in further strengthening the ecclesial communion among the synod fathers.
1) As the synodal assembly begins, each participant is strongly urged to read the Vademecum which contains detailed instructions on various procedures, in keeping with the norms of the Apostolic Letter Apostolica sollicitudo and the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum as well as accepted practices at past synods.
2) The work-calendar, inserted in Latin at the end of the Vademecum, indicates that the synodal assembly has 20 general congregations and 9 sessions of the small discussion groups.
3) To afford maximum participation, each synod father has been allotted 5 minutes to make a presentation in the synod hall.
4) Moreover, at the end of the general congregation’s afternoon session, an hour of open discussion will take place from 6:00-7:00 P.M. On the first day, the discussion period will be extended so as to properly reflect on the application of Ecclesia in Africa. After the presentation of His Excellency, Most Rev. Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, a synod father, an open discussion should allow us to rekindle the enthusiasm which characterized the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. At the same time, this period will provide an opportunity to highlight positive results as well as focus on aspects which were not sufficiently implemented or should receive major application. These observations can serve as an introduction to the work before us, in perfect continuity to the synodal assembly celebrated 15 years ago.
5) During the period of discussion, each synod father is reminded of the importance of centering on the topic of the Synod: “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)”. Since the subject is particularly important and rich in content, it deserves to be examined thoroughly from various ecclesial perspectives and translated into a variety of initiatives in pastoral activity. Consequently, the Presidents-Delegate are kindly asked to make sure that the discussion remains focussed on the given subject.
6) At the same time, to ensure an orderly discussion, the synod fathers’ interventions should follow, as much as possible, the structure of the Instrumentum laboris. Therefore, the interventions should make reference to the number of the Instrumentum laboris, or at least one of its sections, on which the speaker intends to comment. The General Secretariat will seek to take this into account in composing the list of speakers. Therefore, those treating the first chapter of the Instrumentum laboris will speak first, then those treating the second, and so on. Obviously, the synod fathers can now make their request to speak, indicating on which part of the document they intend to speak.
7) Customarily, the summaries of the interventions given in the synod hall, personally composed by each synod father, are made public. If someone does not wish his intervention-summary made public, he is asked to make this known in the General Secretariat. As noted, the possibility exists to submit to the General Secretariat texts in scriptis, which will be given due consideration by those exercising special roles at the synodal assembly.
8) The four languages which are to be used in discussion are French, English, Italian and Portuguese. Simultaneous translations are also offered in these languages.
9) The aforementioned languages can also be used in drafting the Propositiones. The synod fathers are asked to make every propositio both brief and concise, treating one subject only. The doctrinal teaching of the Church in the matter should not be repeated. Instead, the synod fathers should draft proposals geared towards renewal in ecclesial life and the Church’s pastoral activity in evangelization and human promotion, especially in reconciliation, justice and peace.
10) Presently, the use of electronic instruments has become commonplace. An attempt will be made at this synod to make appropriate use of them in facilitating dialogue and strengthening episcopal communion. Among other things, various elections and voting will utilize equipment which will be provided. We thank in advance the technicians for the good functioning of the system and for their assistance. In any case, the synod fathers should offer brotherly help to each other, above all at the beginning of the sessions, indicating to those nearby, if necessary, how to operate the equipment.
11) To ensure everyone’s participation, the synod fathers are asked not to exercise more than one role within the synod.
12) According to established custom, a certain number of fraternal delegates, representing other Churches and ecclesial communities, will also take part in this synod assembly. In particular, I am happy to announce the participation of the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, His Holiness Abuna Paulos. He has willingly accepted the invitation of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI and, God willing, will be with us Tuesday morning, 6 October. We are grateful to the Lord for the valuable participation of a representative of this Christian Church, which has always existed in Africa since apostolic times.
13) During the synod, two specially invited guests are equally awaited. Mr. Jacque Diouf, Director General of the FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization) is to share information with the synod fathers on the efforts of his organization to guarantee a food supply in Africa. And Mr. Rudolf Adada, former Special Representative of the Joint United Nations-African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur, has been invited to acquaint us with the efforts towards peace in the Darfur region, a peace which would extend to other African countries.

VI. Conclusion

“Be reconciled to God!” (2 Cor 5:20). The compelling invitation to the Christians of Africa by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is the same addressed by St. Paul to the Christians in Corinth. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, which is the gift of the Risen Lord, the Apostle of the Gentiles personally experienced the importance of reconciliation in the Christian faith: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18). Reconciliation requires pardon from the Father which, in turn, is extended to others, according to the teaching of the Lord Jesus: “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us” (Lk 11:4; cf. Mt 6:11). The Church proclaims this good news of reconciliation and proposes it in the sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Penance. It is a matter of “reconciliation at the source, from which comes every other gesture or act of reconciliation, also at the social level” [30]. Justice needs to be respected in this reciprocal exchange, including a penalty for whatever crimes might be committed. However, the Master’s words are: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:13). Christian mercy does not cancel human justice but goes beyond it.
The teaching on reconciliation, which is the source of peace and justice, is at the heart of discussion at the Special Assembly for Africa. It presupposes the proclamation of the Good News and its assimilation. At the same time, considering the many examples of conflict, violence and even hate, a new evangelization seems urgently needed even in those places where the Word of God has already been proclaimed. Situations vary from country to country. In Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Christianity has been continually present from apostolic times; in sub-Saharan Africa, some particular Churches have celebrated 500 years of their foundation; while others have solemnly commemorated the first century of evangelization. If one travels in Africa, inwardly from the coast, some countries first saw missionaries some 50 years ago. However, in every case, all Christians are called to be reconciled with God and one’s neighbour. In such an urgent ongoing task, their guides are: bishops, priests, clerical-religious, deacons and also persons in the consecrated life. Openness to reconciliation is the barometer of the depth of evangelization in a person’s life, in a family, in a community, in a nation and also in the particular and universal Churches. Only a heart reconciled to God can bring forth initiatives of charity and justice towards one’s neighbour and in society as a whole.
“You Are the Salt of the Earth... You Are the Light of the World” (Mt 5:13, 14). These compelling words are at one and the same time an assertion of our Christian dignity and an invitation always to live that dignity in a better way. In these days, these words are addressed to all Christians, but in a particular manner to those in Africa. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, they realize that an affirmative response to the call demands conversion and a determination to follow Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church in Africa is to increasingly shed light on the complex realities of the continent using the light of the Lord Jesus and to progressively become the salt of the earth in Africa, giving divine flavour to everyday life.
Statistical data show that the Church in Africa is vibrantly alive. While we render thanks to God with a heart full of praise, we pray the Almighty Father, Son and Holy Spirit that this quantitative growth will increasingly become qualitative. In this way, Christians, guided by their Pastors, will be able to fulfill the ideal to which the Lord Jesus calls each of his disciples, namely, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5:13, 14 ). Only united to the one who gives meaning to all creation and, above all, to human existence, can Christians live out their vocation of being the salt of the earth and offering a divine, eternal flavour to earthly goods and material things, which they ought to utilize in a Christian manner in their lives. Only in putting on the Lord Jesus, the Light of the World, can Christians reflect his light in the darkness of the present world, thereby leading the many men and women of good will, who are in search of the true light, to its inexhaustible source: The Lord Jesus, who died and rose from the dead, the one who is “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13).
We entrust the realization of this proposal to the intercession of all the saints of Africa, in a particular way to the Blessed Virgin Mary, making our own the wish of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI - that the Church in Africa “will continue to grow in holiness, in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. I pray that the work of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will fan into a flame the gifts that the Spirit has poured out upon the Church in Africa. I pray for each of you, for your families and loved ones, and I ask you to join me in praying for all the people of this vast continent. [...] God bless Africa!” [31].
Thank you for your patience in listening. May the grace of the Holy Spirit guide our work at this synod!

[1] BENEDICT XVI, Discourse to the Special Council for Africa (19 March 2009), Yaounde, Cameroon, L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 25 March 2009, p.13.
[2] BENEDICT XVI, Presentation of the Instrumentum laboris (19 March 2009), Yaounde, Cameroon, L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 25 March 2009, p.10.
[3] Ibidem.
[4] Ibidem.
[5] BENEDICT XVI, Address at Nsimalen International Airport (17 March 2009), Yaounde, Cameroon, L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 25 March 2009, p.5.
[6] Ibidem.
[7] Ibidem.
[8] Ibidem.
[9] Cf. Secretaria Status Rationarium Generale Ecclesiae, Annuarium statisticum Ecclesiae 1994, Vatican City.
[10] Cf. Secretaria Status Rationarium Generale Ecclesiae, Annuarium statisticum Ecclesiae 2007, Vatican City.
[11] In the course of 25 years, the Foundation has distributed about 40,000,000 US dollars in 9 countries: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, for financing water projects, the reclaiming of arable land as well as formation and instruction programmes.
[12] The Foundation is under the jurisdiction of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers.
[13] The following deserve mention, in alphabetical order: AVSI (The Association of Volunteers in International Service); Caritas Internationalis; CRS (Catholic Relief Services); Comunità S. Egidio; KAS (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung); ICCPPC (The International Commission for Catholic Prison Pastoral Care); Misereor; Pax Christi International; COSMAM (Confédération des Conférences des Supérieur[e]s Majeur[e]s d'Afrique et Madagascar); CCSA (Recontre et développement); Nolite Timere Foundation ONLUS, Adoption at a Distance Programme.
[14] African Forum for Catholic Social Teaching, Harare ( Zimbabwe); IAJP (Institut des Artisans de Justice et de Paix), Cotonou (Benin); Centre Ubuntu, Bujumbura (Burundi); Médiation Sociale et Justice et Paix, Yaounde (Cameroon); CEPAS (Centre d’Etudes pour l’Action Sociale), Kinshasa, (Democratic Republic of Congo); Centre Carrefour, Port-Mathurin (Mauritius); Centre for Social Justice and Ethics, Catholic University of Eastern Africa - CUEA, Nairobi (Kenya); Institute of Social Ministry in Mission, Tangaza College, Catholic University of Eastern Africa - CUEA; Justice and Peace Desk, Conference of Major Superiors (Lesotho); CIDJAP (The Catholic Institute for Development Justice and Peace), Enugu (Nigeria); CPT (Christian Professionals of Tanzania), Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania).
[15] Cf. Cf. Secretaria Status Rationarium Generale Ecclesiae, Annuarium statisticum Ecclesiae 2007, Vatican City 2009, p. 357.
[16] Cf. R. CASCIOLI, Aids, Africa e bugie: Avvenire, 28 marzo 2009, p. 3.
[17] JOHN PAUL II, Discourse by the Holy Father at the Meeting of the Post-Synodal Council of the Special Assembly for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops (15 June 2004): L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 23 June 2004, p. 2.
[18] JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Participants of the Symposium of the Bishops of Africa and Europe promoted by the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe (13 November 2004): AAS 96 (2004) 955.
[19] Ibidem.
[20] JOHN PAUL II, Letter to the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the 13th Meeting of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops (23 February 2005): /holy_father /john_paul_ii /letters /2005/ documents /hf_ jp-ii_let_20050223_eterovic-synod_en.html.
[21] Ibidem.
[22] Ibidem.
[23] BENEDICT XVI, Weekly General Audience Talk (22 June 2005): L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English,
[24] The announcement was made public on 29 June 2007 in L’Osservatore Romano: Daily Edition in Italian, Friday, 29 June 2007, p. 1.
[25] The following episcopal conferences failed to respond: The Gambia and Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi and C.E.D.O.I. (Conférence Episcopale de l’Océan Indien).
[26] The only response came from AMECEA (The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa).
[27] No response was received from the Metropolitan Church sui iuris of Ethiopia.
[28] No response was received from: 2 Congregations: the Causes of Saints and Institutes of the Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; 2 Tribunals: The Apostolic Penitentiary and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; 5 Pontifical Councils: for Promoting Christian Unity, for the Legislative Texts, for Interreligious Dialogue, for Culture, for Social Communications and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Church.
[29] Cf. L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English: 25 February 2009, p. 2.[30] JOHN PAUL II, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 4: AAS: 77 (1985) 194.
[31] BENEDICT XVI, Address at Nsimalen International Airport (17 March 2009), Yaounde, Cameroon: L’Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 25 March 2009, p. 5.

[00010-02.11] [RE000] [Original text: Italian]



With the intoning of the “Te Deum...” and the whole synod hall resounding with this hymn of thanksgiving at noon on 7th May 1994, the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops formally came to a close. The Synod had been held under the theme: “The Church in Africa and her Evangelizing Mission Towards the Year 2000: ‘You shall be my Witnesses’ (Acts 1:9)”. It addressed a message to the Church and the world, which reflected the main thrusts of the synod proceedings, and voted on various resolutions, as propositions. From this point on, the synod fathers, and indeed the whole Church, awaited expectantly the Holy Father’s Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, which would gather the fruits of the synod in a message from him, as the President of the Synod, to mark the definitive conclusion of the collegial and consultative exercise of the synod. This the Holy Father did, when he issued the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (“the Church in Africa”), and presented it to Africa and the world at Yaounde, Cameroon, on 14th September 1995, and then at Johannesburg, South Africa, on 17th September 1995, and finally at Nairobi, Kenya, on 19th September 1995. [1]


Pope John Paul II described the synod, which he concluded with the promulgation of his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, as a “synod of resurrection and hope”. [2] This synod assembly, which had been convoked against the background of a predominantly pessimistic world view of Africa, and against a background of a peculiarly challenging and a “deplorably unfavourable” [3] situation of the continent for the evangelizing mission of the Church in those closing years of the twentieth century, was nevertheless expected to mark a turning point in the history of the continent. [4]
When the Holy Father and the synod fathers gathered for this first synod, they had both “positive and negative elements (lights and shadows) in the ‘signs of the times’” [5] to consider. They had the successes of evangelization and the growth of local churches on the continent to both contemplate and celebrate; but they also had a catalogue of miseries and evils on the continent to decry and to bemoan. They had the heroism and the pioneering spirit of the missionaries to honour; but they also had the lack of commitment and pastoral zeal of church personnel, the emergence of syncretistic tendencies, proliferation of sects, the politicization of Islam and its intolerance to criticise. They had the emergence of democracies and the awakening of a profound cultural, social, economic and political consciousness on the continent to welcome with optimism; but they also had despotic and dictatorial regimes, bad governance, widespread corruption and an alarming increase of poverty to pine over.
The situation on the continent was as harshly ambivalent as it was paradoxical; and the close succession of such events as the collapse of apartheid and the sad outbreak of the Rwandan genocide typified this paradox very well.
In view of this paradoxical blend, in which evil and distress seemed to prevail over good and virtue, the Paschal setting of the First Special Assembly for Africa inspired a message of hope for Africa. With the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, the Church in Africa received a new impulse and a new élan for its life and activity on the continent, as a missionary Church, namely, a Church with a mission. For, the synod in its Easter setting and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation had given the Church in Africa a new impulse, which consisted in:
- hope in the resurrected Christ, as a new impetus for living out her “programme” and evangelizing mission;
- a new paradigm: Church as Family of God, to provide a perspective and value system for living out her “programme”, but, especially to underlie the unity and the communion of all despite differences;
- a set of pastoral priorities: evangelization as Proclamation, evangelization as Inculturation, evangelization as Dialogue, evangelization as Justice and Peace and evangelization as Communication, to guide the implementation of her “programme” and mission in an Africa with a paradoxical blend of deplorable human miseries and darting heroisms outside and within the Church. [6]
Thus, the period after the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation was the time, as Pope John Paul II also believed, [7] to deepen this synod experience and to implement Ecclesia in Africa in a persevering and concerted effort to restore renewed strength and a more firmly-grounded hope to the continent in difficulty. This post-synodal period is now in its fourteenth year; and while the situation of the continent, its islands, and of the Church still bears some of the “lights and shadows” [8] that occasioned the first synod, it has also “changed considerably. This new reality requires a thorough study in view of renewed evangelization efforts, which call for a more in-depth analysis of specific topics, important for the present and future of the Catholic Church on the great continent”[9].
Accordingly, gathered again in a Second Special Assembly for Africa, fifteen years after the First Special Assembly, we need to be rooted deeply in the first synod [10], but cognizant of and keen to explore, most importantly, the “new ecclesial and social data for the continent” [11], which now affect the Church’s mission there and require that the African Church, besides understanding itself as “a witness of Christ” and “family of God”, also understands itself as “salt of the earth, light of the world” and “servants of reconciliation, justice and peace”.


Ecclesial Data

a. Subsidia Fidei: It is important to note that the élan and impulse, which the First Special Assembly for Africa gave the Church in Africa to renew its strength and to ground more firmly its hope in the Lord, were greatly enhanced by several other subsequent Church events and activities of the Pope and the Roman Curia, which we may refer to as “subsidia fidei” for the Church. Thus, the “Synod on the Eucharist” affirmed the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church-Family of God, as a symbol of unity. The “Synod on The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel....” recalled Bishops and Pastors to their essential ministry, as preachers of the Gospel, within the Church-Family of God; and the “Synod on The Word of God” reminded the Family of God of the eternal and imperishable seed of its birth. Additionally, the Encyclical Letters of the Pope: “Deus caritas est”, “Spe salvi”, “Caritas in veritate”, and his sermons and addresses during his recent apostolic visit to Africa (Cameroon and Angola) have offered catecheses of inestimable value to the Church in Africa. Finally, the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia have organized seminars on:
- “Liturgy” (Kumasi 2007) to provide guidance for the on-going work of inculturation in the liturgy.
- The “Social Doctrine of the Church” (Dar-es-Salaam 2008) to promote knowledge of and diffusion of the social teachings of the Church.
- “Migration” (Nairobi 2008) to discuss migration and new form of slaveries.
- The “Work of Theological Commissions of Episcopal Conferences” (Dar-es-Salaam 2009) to remind Bishops of the importance of their teaching office in the Church, even if they make use of experts.

These meetings heightened the consciousness of the Church in Africa about her life and ministry.

b. The Exceptional Growth of the Church in Africa: In the past few decades (including the years after the First Special Assembly for Africa), it has become customary to talk about an exceptional growth of the Church in Africa; and the indicators, as the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum laboris point out, are many. However, what is really new among these signs of growth of the Church on the continent and its Islands are:
- The ascendency of African members of missionary congregations to leadership positions and roles: council members, vicars general, and even superiors general.
- Pursuit of self-reliance on the part of local churches, as they engage in economic and income-generating ventures (banks, credit unions, insurance companies, real estate and shops).
- An observable growth in ecclesiastical structures and institutions (seminaries, Catholic universities and institutes of higher learning, on-going formation centres for the religious, catechists and the laity, schools of evangelization), as well as growth in experts and resource persons for research work in the areas of faith, mission, culture and inculturation, history, evangelization and catechesis.

Nonetheless, the Church in Africa also faces formidable challenges:

- The talk about a thriving Church in Africa conceals the fact that the Church hardly exists in large parts north of the equator. The exceptionally growing Church in Africa is to be found generally south of the Sahara.
- The fidelity and commitment of some clergy and religious to their vocations.
- The need to evangelize (or evangelize anew) for a conversion that is deep and permanent.
- The loss of members to new religious movements and sects. Catholic youth travel outside (to Europe and America), and return non-Catholic, because they felt less at home in the Catholic Churches there.
- Falling population growth indices in traditionally Christian Europe and America.

c. The African Synod and the “Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM)”: The deepening of the African synodal experience on the continent and its islands has depended greatly on an implementation organ of the continental Church, called “SECAM”. It was at the Vatican Council II, where the African Bishops, in search of an appropriate means of cooperation, established a secretariat to coordinate their interventions and to present a common (African) point of view at the Council. After the Council and in the presence of Pope Paul VI at Kampala (1969), the African Bishops decided to make their means of cooperation at the Council permanent with the creation of SECAM. At that time SECAM was a desired permanent body or institution to foster the exercise of an organic pastoral solidarity on the continent by its Pastors. It was to be the Bishops’ means of promoting “Evangelization in Co-Responsibility” on the continent [12]; and it was to this body that Pope John Paul II attributed the original idea of a Synod for Africa [13].

In the course of a Second Special Assembly for Africa, it may not be out of place for the continent’s Pastors to review their need for SECAM, and their commitment to it.

Social Data

In its treatment of “some critical places (areas) in the life of the African Society” [14], the Instrumentum laboris identified and discussed a lot of these new social data. We shall add a few footnotes, which may be significant, and leave it to the synodal assembly to complete the picture.

d. Socio-Historical Footnotes to the Instrumentum laboris: In 1963, at a meeting of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), African leaders decided to retain a vestige of the colonial rule, maintaining the colonial boundaries and descriptions of states, regardless of their artificial character. That decision, however, has not been followed by a corresponding development of a sense of nationalism that makes ethnic diversity mutually enriching, and that extols the common national good over parochial ethnic interests. Thus ethnic diversity continues to be a seedbed of conflicts and tensions, which even defy the sense of belonging together as members of a Church-Family of God.

Slavery and enslavement, which the Arab world initiated on the East African coast, and Europeans, with the collaboration of Africans themselves, took over into the 14th century and extended over the continent, represented forced movement of Africans. These days, the voluntary migration of Africa’s sons and daughters to Europe, America and the Far East for various reasons, land them in servile conditions, which require our attention and pastoral care.

e. Socio-Political Footnote to the Instrumentum laboris: Closely related with post-colonial developments on the continent has been the celebrations of independence and the emergence of African states and nations with governance exercised manifestly by Africans. The character of the exercise of political power and governance has been generally criticized and flawed on several counts by despotism, dictatorship, politicization of religion and ethnicity, disregard for rights of citizens, lack of transparency and press freedom, etc.

But the period after the First Special Assembly for Africa, namely, the dawn of the Third Millennium, appeared to have coincided with an emerging continental desire on the part of African leaders themselves for an “African renaissance” (Thabo Mbeki), “a new contemporary African self-assertion to build an African civilization which would be responsive to the dictates of our times, namely, economic prosperity, political freedom and social solidarity”[15].
African political leaders appear determined to change the face of political administration on the continent; and they have spearheaded a critical self-appraisal of Africa, which identified poor and bad governance on the continent as the cause of Africa’s poverty and woes. Accordingly, they have charted the path of good governance and the formation a political class, capable of taking the best of ancestral traditions in Africa and integrating them with principles of governance of modern societies. They have adopted a strategic framework (NEPAD) to guide performance, and to set the tone for Africa’s renewal through transparent political leadership [16]. Can the Church in Africa recognize these political efforts of her sons and daughters, and provide the stimuli of her Gospel message to challenge them to be the “light of their nations” and “salt of their communities”, providing “servant leadership”?

f. Socio-Economic Footnote to the Instrumentum laboris: The radical relationship between governance and economy is clear; and it demonstrates that bad governance begets bad economy. This explains the paradox of the poverty of a continent which is certainly the most richly endowed in the world. The spin-off of this “governance-economy equation” is that there is hardly any African country that can meet its budgetary obligations, namely, its planned national financial programme, without outside assistance in the form of grants or loans. This continual underwriting of national budgets by means of loans inflates a bludgeoning debt burden. The universal Church joined the Church in Africa in a campaign to eradicate it during the Great Jubilee year.

The traditional economic alliances between African states and their colonial masters, for example, “the Commonwealth”, have been replaced by other powerful economic alliances between African nations individually or en bloc with the USA (Millennium Challenge Account), the European Economic Community (Lomé Culture, Yaoundé Agreement and the Cotonou Agreement [17]) and Japan (TICAD I-III). Lately, China and India, hungry for natural resources, have emerged on the scene, displaying interest in every conceivable aspect of African national economies. At the centre of most of these protocols and agreements is the debate on “trade and aid”, seeing that countries, which have developed, have done so through trade (not only in “raw material”), and not in an “aid-dependency syndrome”. It is, therefore, of great concern to the young trading economies of Africa, what decisions and “conditionalities” the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the developed world impose.

As mentioned above, African leaders have lately crafted a strategic framework (NEPAD [18]) to guide Africa’s economic partnership and its emergence from poverty, and its attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. As Dr. Uschi Eid puts it, “Only stimuli and efforts coming from within Africa will lead to success” [19]. In a sense, Africa’s emergence from its economic throes should be the work of Africans and be spearheaded by them [20]. Thus hearts must be converted and eyes healed to appreciate new ways of administering public wealth for the common well-being; and this is the remit of the evangelizing mission of the Church on the continent and the islands.

g. Social Footnotes to the Instrumentum laboris: The fall-out from the above situations (historical, political, economic) determine how healthy (stable, peaceful, prosperous) the African society is; and they also constitute the traditional sources of challenges for the evangelizing mission of the Church on the continent and the islands.
There are also certain global phenomena and international initiatives, whose impact on the African society and some of its structures, are worth assessing, and which pose new challenges to the Church. While the prominence, which is increasingly being given to the place and role of women in society is a happy development, the global emergence of life-styles, values, attitudes, associations, etc., which destabilize society, is disquieting. These attack the basic props of society (marriage and family), diminish its human capital (migration, drug-pushing and arms’ trade) and endanger life on the planet.

Marriage and the Family have come under strange and terrible pressures to re-define their nature and functions in modern society. Traditional marriages, which founded families, are threatened by an increasing proposal of alternative unions and relationships, devoid of the concept of lasting commitments, non-heterosexual in character, and without the aim of procreation. These already have advocates within the Church in certain parts of the continent.

This onslaught on marriage and family is propelled and sustained by groups that churn out a glossary which is meant to replace traditional concepts and terms about marriage and family with new ones. The aim is to establish a new global ethic about marriage, family, human sexuality and the related issues of abortion, contraception, aspects of genetic engineering, etc.

Drug-Trafficking and Arms-Trafficking: Certain parts of the continent have become established pathways for the trafficking of drugs from Latin Americas into Europe. In West Africa, drug trafficking is cited as the underlying cause for the instability and political turmoil in Guinea Bissau, and now, also Guinea. When early in July, Guinea’s military declared a maximum state of alert, it was because of threats of invasion, supported by drug cartels.

Drugs do not simply pass through parts of the continent and its islands, they have found users everywhere. Drug use and addiction among the youth is fast becoming the major source of dissipation of human capital in Africa and its islands, next to migration, conflicts and disease, such as, HIV-Aids and malaria.

Closely related to drug-trafficking and political adventurism is the trafficking of arms: small scale and heavy. The Church in Africa, gathered in Special Assembly associates itself with the Holy See to gladly welcome UN initiatives to stop illegal arms-trafficking, and to make all legal arms’ trade more transparent. It supports particularly the on-going study into the preparation of a treaty with a juridical binding force on the importation, exportation and the channelling of conventional arms through Africa.

Environment and Climate Change: The occasional cover of smog which hangs over most of East Africa, accompanied by diminished rainfall, drought and famine are usually considered an El Niňo effect. But, it points to how harsh climatic conditions on the continent generally are, and how adversely the precarious ecological balance in parts of Africa can be affected by the observed “climate change” on the planet. Thus UN and world summits on climate change, green gas emission, depletion of the ozone layer, such as the one coming up in December in Copenhagen must enjoy the prayerful support of Africa, while it braces itself to explore and to develop alternative sources of clean energy (sun, wind, sea-waves, biogas, etc.).
At the end of this survey, which is admittedly incomplete, it is clear that, although the continent and the Church on the continent are not yet out of the woods, they can still modestly rejoice in their achievement and positive performance, and begin to disclaim stereotypical generalizations about its conflicts, famine, corruption and bad governance. The forty-eight countries that make up Sub-Sahara Africa show great differences in the situations of their churches, their governance and their socio-economic life. Out of these forty-eight nations, only four: Somalia, Sudan, Niger and parts of Democratic Republic of Congo are presently at war; and at least two are at war because of foreign interference: the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Indeed, there are fewer wars in Africa than in Asia.

Increasingly, war mongers and war criminals are being denounced, held accountable for crimes and prosecuted. An official of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been prosecuted, Charles Taylor of Liberia is before the international court.

The truth is that Africa has been burdened for too long by the media with everything that is loathsome to humankind; and it is time to “shift gears” and to have the truth about Africa told with love, fostering the development of the continent which would lead to the well-being of the whole world [21]. The G-8 countries and the countries of the world must love Africa in truth! [22]

Generally considered to occupy the tenth position in world economy, Africa is however the second emerging world market after China. Thus, it is as the just-ended G8 summit labelled it, a continent of opportunities. This needs to be true also for the people of the continent. It is hoped that the pursuit of reconciliation, justice and peace, made particularly Christian by their rootedness in love and mercy, would restore wholeness to the Church-Family of God on the continent, and that the latter, as salt of the earth and light of the world, would heal “wounded human hearts, the ultimate hiding place for the causes of everything destabilizing the African continent” [23]. Thus, will the continent and its islands realize their God-given opportunities and endowments.


As already observed, when the First Special Assembly for Africa gathered to consider evangelization on the continent and its islands on the threshold of the third millennium of the Christian faith, it adopted Church-Family of God as its guiding principle for the evangelization of Africa [24]. The imagery of Church-Family of God evoked such values as care for others, solidarity, dialogue, trust, acceptance and warmth in relationship. But it also evoked the socio-cultural realities of parenthood, generation and filiation, kinship and fraternity, as well as networks of relationship which are generated by these social realities and in which the members stand. The relationships build the life of communion of the family; but they also make their demands on the members, the fulfilment of which both constitutes their justice and makes the relationships harmonious and peaceful. When, however, the demands of the relationships are not fulfilled, justice is infringed upon, relationships are broken and the life of communion is hurt, damaged and impaired.
The Instrumentum laboris observes this and points out the many challenges to communion and social order which the disregard for the just demands of relationship causes on the continent. The restoration of communion and just order in such cases is what reconciliation stands for; and it takes the form of the re-establishment of justice, which only restores peace and harmony to the Church-Family of God and the family of society.

The following intends to contribute to the synodal discussion of its theme by providing brief biblical underpinnings of the terms of the theme, with the view of rooting instances of the terms and their interplay in human relationships (in human society) first and foremost in God’s relationship with man (humanity).

a. Servants (diakonoi) of Reconciliation as the Re-Establishment of Justice

In Scripture, reconciliation is a divine initiative, a free and a gratuitous move, which God initiates towards humanity; and its purpose is to repair and to restore the communion that covenant establishes, but which sin threatens and breaks up.

The teaching of St. Paul to the Corinthian church on this matter is very instructive: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old order has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”. (2 Cor 5:17-20).

then, is a divine act, which we (humanity) experience, and in whose experience we become its instruments and ambassadors.

The Apostles’ Experience of Reconciliation

The Gospels had presented the life and ministry of Jesus as the Father’s work of salvation for humankind. The disciples of Jesus were the first to be called to make an experience of the Father’s offer of salvation in Jesus; and they did this in various ways, including forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus’ greeting of “peace” to the disciples on the morning of the Resurrection (Jn 20:19-21), for example, was both the pardoning of their betrayal and abandonment of Jesus, as well as the restoring of friendship.

Jesus did not require an admission of guilt on the part of his disciples. There was no request for pardon; and no apology was proffered. There simply was a benign glossing over of all unpleasantness. In its place are given a free pardon and a conciliatory greeting of peace.

here is a free and an unmerited conciliatory gesture, which the offended (Jesus) initiates towards the offender (the disciples). Now commissioned to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, the disciples-apostles of Jesus carried out their mission as “evangelizers who had been evangelized” and as “ambassadors of reconciliation who had experienced reconciliation”.

Paul’s Experience of Reconciliation

Later, Paul came after the disciples-apostles of Jesus as a preacher of the same offer of salvation in Jesus. But having received this commission to preach Jesus in the particular circumstances of his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, Paul would also understand the offer of salvation in Jesus by the Father as the Father’s act of reconciliation [25]. For, as he would admit: “I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance; but because I did not know what I was doing in my unbelief, I have been treated mercifully, and the grace of God has been granted me in overflowing measure...” (1 Tim 1:13-14).

For Paul, then, the experience of salvation was also a passage from hostility and enmity towards Christ and his Church to belief in Christ and fellowship with his Church. This passage from enmity to fellowship constitutes reconciliation; and it is an undeserved experience which only God brings about and leads a person to make. In this, Paul considered himself an example for those who would later come to faith in Christ (cf. 1 Tim 1:16).

Reconciliation with God (vertical) and among Human Beings (horizontal)

In Jesus: in his life and ministry, but, especially, in his death and resurrection, Paul saw God the Father reconcile the world (all things in heaven and on earth) to himself, discounting the sins of humankind (cfr. 2 Cor 5:19; Rom 5:10; Col 1:21-22). Paul saw God the Father reconcile Jews and Gentiles to himself in one body through the cross (Eph 2:16). But Paul also saw God reconcile Jews and Gentiles, creating one new man in place of two (Eph 2:15; 3:6). Thus, the experience of reconciliation establishes communion on two levels: communion between God and humanity; and since the experience of reconciliation also makes us (reconciled humanity) “ambassadors of reconciliation”. It also re-establishes communion between men.

Reconciliation between God and Humanity

The creation of humanity in the image and likeness of God, the election of Israel to be “God’s portion and inheritance”, and the redemption of humanity by Christ and its sealing with the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 1:13; 4:30) draw humanity into communion with God.

When humanity is alienated and estranged from God through sin (disobedience, idolatry, rejection of Jesus), reconciliation takes the form of forgiveness; and it is the work of God [26]. It is God who initiates reconciliation with sinful and estranged Israel and humanity, bringing them back to himself (Ps 80:3, 7, 19; Hos 11; 14) “to live for the praise of his glory” (Eph1:12) and according to “the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:30); and Jesus, “who did not know sin, but for our sakes was made to be sin” (2 Cor 5:21; Gal.3:13; Rom.8:5) remains our means of reconciliation. This, however, is the work of God’s love.

Reconciliation within the Human Family

Briefly referring to the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus (Lk 19), one recognizes that the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus did not only lead to a conversion that established communion between Zacchaeus and the Lord. That encounter led to a conversion which also restored Zacchaeus’ relationship with his own people. In this new relationship, his vision of his people also changed: they were brothers not to be exploited or defrauded.

Reconciliation, then, is not limited to God’s drawing of estranged and sinful humanity to himself in Christ through the forgiveness of sins and out of love. It is also the restoration of relationships between people through the settlement of differences and the removal of obstacles to their relationships in their experience of God’s love. This, indeed, is the distinctive feature of reconciliation in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, Scriptures attest to several forms of reconciliation through settlements [27], such as:
- the offender admits wrongdoing and asks for pardon, thus recognizing the offended to be in the right (righteous) [28];
- the offender disclaims wrongdoing and thus initiates an arbitration to establish who is in the right;
- the offended pardons unilaterally and sees to the cessation of hostilities, establishing peace and reconciliation.

In all of these cases though, reconciliation, as a passage from hostility to peace, from alienation to communion is not a sacrifice of rights; and it does not replace justice. Rather, it is the re-establishment of justice and is the fruit thereof.

In sum, the reconciliation of hitherto estranged people may take the form of Jews and Gentiles coming together as heirs of the kingdom (Eph 2:13-15). It may take the form of members of a worshipping community settling their differences and being at peace with each other (Mt 5:23-26; 1 Cor 3:3); and it may also take the form of community members forgiving each other for offences (Mt 18:15; Lk 17:3-4), and not harbouring anger and grudges (Eph 4:26). Through forgiveness, members of the human family build a community of the reconciled (Eph 2:16-19), whose mutual forgiveness reflects that of their Father in heaven (Mt 6:12; Lk 11:4), who initiates our reconciliation out of his love and mercy.

A Perspective for the Instrumentum laboris

Here is a spirituality of reconciliation which can inspire its discussion in the Instrumentum laboris, and which must become the disposition of the servant of reconciliation. For, in a Church, which is a family in communion, reconciliation becomes not a state or an act, but a dynamic process, a task to be undertaken everyday, a goal to strive after, an unending setting out to re-establish, through love and mercy, broken friendships, fraternal bonds, trust and confidence [29].

b. Servants (diakonoi) of Justice (Righteousness)

The fruit of reconciliation between God and men, and within the human family (between man and man), as observed above, is the restoration of justice and the just demands of relationships. It is at once ethical and religious; and it is motivated by love and mercy.

False Forms of Justice

The concept of justice has been secularized before to mean:
- merely “the law of the stronger;- a social compromise to avoid greater evils; and
- the virtue of impartiality in the general application of the one law, without any regard for natural justice [30].

The surge of the “Spirit of Capitalism” also added to the alienation of the concept of justice from any transcendental roots [31]. The ethics of economics, for example, was rationalistic and individualistic. Its central concern was profit; and it was separated from the demands of solidarity, an “ordo amoris” and from all ethical religious bonds. Accordingly, the whole notion of social justice was eliminated; and justice applied to the conventions of negotiated contracts within the framework of the law of supply and demand, with no restrictions on individualistic enterprise. The state merely enforced public order and the fulfilment of contracts, while remaining rigorously neutral as regards their content [32].

By contrast, the justice of Christian diakonia is the right order of things and the fulfilment of the just demands of relationships. It is the justice and righteousness of God and of his kingdom (Mt 6:33).
In the present state of human sinfulness and wounded hearts, however, the Old Testament is strong in its outlook that justice cannot come to man through his own strength, but is a gift of God; and the New Testament develops this outlook more fully, making justice the supreme revelation of the salvific grace of God.

The Sense of “Righteousness of the Kingdom” [33]

The righteousness or justice of the kingdom is not quite retributive justice, although that is sometimes the sense of its attribution to God (Rev 15:4; 19:2, 11; 16:5-6; Heb 6:10; 2 Thess 1:6). It does not also have the sense of “conformity to a norm or a set of norms”. At least, this is not its primary sense; and it can never be applied to God in that sense.

Variously presented as tsedaqah and tsedek, justice (righteousness) is the fulfilment of the demand of relationship, whether that relationship be with God or with men [34]; and when God or man fulfils the conditions imposed upon him (her) by the relationship, he (she) is, in terms of the Bible, “righteous” (tsadiq / dikaios).

Fundamentally, three events account for all the relationships which exist between God and man, and between man and man; and they are:
- the creation of humanity “in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:26-27), which makes human beings creatures of God. The same act of creation, however, posits for humanity a common origin and a common parenthood, which radically relates all members of the human family, one to another, as brothers and sisters [35];
- God’s covenant-election of Israel, which makes Israel “God’s firstborn”, “his inheritance”, “his portion”. It also makes the sons of Israel “brothers” (Dt 15:11,12);
- the new covenant in the blood of Christ; wherefore all followers of Christ bear the “seal of the Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13-14), which makes them “temples of the Holy Spirit” and “households of God”.

These constitute the basis of relationships between God and humankind, at its various points in history; and they are initiatives of God and acts of his love. In this sense, righteousness is a radical and comprehensive justice of a religious character, which requires that humanity surrender itself to God, in obedience and in faith, and which makes every sin an “injuria”, an injustice and impiety. It also requires that man fulfils the just demands of the relationships he/she stands by reason of creation and universal brotherhood of men, and by reason of salvation and a common call to holiness and sonship in Christ.

Righteousness (Justice) based on Creation

The question about the paying of taxes to Caesar (Mt 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26) gave Jesus the opportunity to define the basic relationship between God and man as justice (righteousness).

In the response of Jesus, the denarius belonged to Caesar, because it bore Caesar’s mark of ownership, namely, his image and his inscription. In justice, Caesar’s ownership of the coin had to be recognised and upheld; so “give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s”.

The second part of Jesus’ answer addressed the more fundamental issue of whether God is given his just due by those who bear his “image and likeness”, namely, human beings (Gen 1:26-27).

The belongingness of humanity to God, by reason of its creation in the “image and likeness of God” is the basis of the life of communion between God and humanity; and it takes the form of justice: humanity giving God his just due. In Scriptures, humanity gives God his just due when man “obeys God’s voice”, “believes in Him”, “fears” and “worships Him”; and where these are lacking, humanity needs to show “repentance” (Acts 17:30).

Correspondingly, humanity’s common parenthood (Acts 17:28-29) enjoins on it an “ordo amoris” of solidarity and universal brotherhood, which is sustained by justice in their relationships.

Righteousness (Justice) based on God’s Covenants

The different covenants in the Old Testament established various relationships between God and:
- individuals: Abraham (Gen 17:4), Isaac (Gen 17:19,21, Jacob (Ex 6:4), David (2 Chr 21:7);
- households and families: Abraham (Gen 17:11), David (2 Sam 7); and
- the people of Israel (Dt 4:12-13; hence, Ex 19-20; 24:8; Lev 24:8; Is 24:5).

Some of the OT covenants also express relationships between human beings: Isaac and Abimelech (Gen 26:28-29), Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:44), David and Jonathan (1 Sam 20:16).

The covenants established special relationships which made demands on the partners. Keeping and upholding the demands of a relationship made a party just and righteous [36]; and justice (righteousness) was the observance of the demands of relationships, which ensured fellowship and communion, vertically, between God and humanity, and horizontally, among people. The opposite terms in the Bible are “wicked (evildoer)” and “wickedness” (rasha‘); and they denote evil committed against one, with whom one stands in relationship. Thus, the “wicked” destroy the community (communion) by failing to fulfil the demands of community relationship [37].

The covenants between God and individuals and the people of Israel represented God’s initiatives, which drew the individuals, families and people of Israel into a special relationship and required them to live the demands of the relationships towards God and towards themselves. The demand(s) of the relationship, on the one hand, was submission in faith and trust to God’s offer, expressed sometimes through the performance of a simple rite of circumcision (Gen 17:10-11), but often through the observance of the laws (torah) of God (Ex 19:5; Dt 7:9, etc.). On the other hand, the Israelites had to fulfil certain demands among themselves (social justice) by reason of their covenant relationship with God.

With her many sins and infringements of the demands of her covenant relationship with God, Israel acted unjustly (injuria) and set herself outside the relationship. She had no claim anymore on God as a covenant partner. If God continued to treat her as covenant partner, it was because God overlooked her infringement, “causing her to return” (Ps 80:3, 7, 19). Israel, on her part, could only confess her sins and allow God to bring her back. This was the principal theme of Hosea and the post-exilic prophets. God’s righteousness now consisted in his justification of Israel: bringing back Israel into covenant relationship despite her failures. On her part, Israel’s righteousness consisted in confessing her sins, in acknowledgment of her failures, and accepting in faith God’s gracious offer of salvation.

Righteousness (Justice) based on the New Covenant in Christ

It is on this note that John the Baptist begins his ministry; and his ministry fulfilled all righteousness in the sense that the repentance and confession of sins, which it demanded, were Israel’s (and humanity’s) acknowledgement of her inability to be faithful to the covenant demands, her undeserved experience, nonetheless, of God’s justifying pardon and favour, and the recognition that God acts only out of love and mercy. When, therefore, Jesus underwent the baptism of John, he joined humanity to confess all the above as God’s righteousness. It is in this that Jesus is said to have fulfilled all righteousness!

In Jesus and in his ministry, one sees two things:
- The revelation of justice as God’s justifying grace that overlooks the just demands of the covenant relationship and re-instates humanity out of mercy [38] and love in a covenant relationship. For, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
- The bestowal of the Spirit of Jesus on the Church and her members, enabling them to respond to God’s justice (righteousness) in faith and to become the “justice of God in Christ” (2 Cor 5:21), “justifying”, in their turn, one another out of mercy and love [39]: overlooking their sins and injuries to their rights, socio-political relationships etc, and restoring thereby the communion of the family of God and the family of society.

This sense of justice and righteousness suggests that the call of the Instrumentum laboris to be servants of justice is first and foremost a call to a spiritual experience: the experience of God’s justification (justifying grace) in faith, and to its witness in the Church and in society, justifying others. How else can the hurts and the many injuries with which people live on the continent be repaired and communion restored?

c. Servants /Ministers (diakonoi) of Peace: The Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats the teaching of St. Augustine that “peace is the tranquillity of order” [40]. It goes on to affirm how “respect for and development of human life require it”, and how it is “the work of justice and the effect of charity” [41].

Peace as the work of Justice

Justice (Righteousness), as observed above, is a concept of relationship; and the righteous is he/she who fulfils the demands laid on him/her by the relationship in which he/she stands.

In the case of sinful Israel and fallen humanity (Rom 5:6ff.), whom God has justified in Christ, imputing to them righteousness, their justice (righteousness) consisted in the recognition of their need for God’s justifying grace, and their submission to it in faith; and this appears precisely to be the attitude which disposes people for God’s peace in the Gospel. For, when at the birth of Jesus the angel announced the coming of God’s peace on earth, it was to be bestowed only on those “on whom God’s favour rested” (Lk 2:14).

“Peace” is bestowed, on earth, “on whom God’s favour rests” (Lk 2:14); and the sense of the phrase: “on whom God’s favour rests”, is, according to some authors, “any who will receive God’s grace and respond with faith” [42]. This understanding of the phrase, as one may recall, coincides with the sense of the “just” and “righteous” above; and it would seem then that the “just (righteous)”, as those who are disposed to accept God’s works in faith, are also those on earth, on whom God’s “peace” rests. It would seem also that it is those who experience God’s peace who are disposed to make peace on earth, fulfilling the demands of relationships they stand in.

There is here an underlining of a close relationship between peace and justice (righteousness), which Isaiah sees (Is 32:17), which the Psalmist sings about (Ps 85:10), and which Paul sees in every Christian who is set aright (justified) with God in Christ: “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, ...” (Rom 5:1). Thus peace comes from heaven. It is God’s gift; and it is closely related with his justice/righteousness. On earth too, it is revealed as God’s gift from on high; and it is bestowed also on the just/righteous those on whom his favour rests”).

Peace as the effect of Charity (the Love of God in Christ)

Because “peace” was so closely related with the covenant and with the living out of its demands, when God’s people failed to keep the covenant, “peace” was also put to flight. It required God’s intervention again out of his loving mercy to bring “peace” to his people; and it was in this sense that the post exilic writings of Israel began to see “peace” brought about by the chastisement of God’s servant: “Upon him was the punishment that made our peace” Is 53:5).

Jesus Christ, in his mission and ministry, fulfilled the vision of the later prophets of Israel. “God so loved the world that he gave his son..” (Jn 3:16); and having been “handed over to death for our trespasses” (Rom 4:25), the Son of God became our “peace”. Thus, if “peace” comes from God (Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Rev 1:4) and is of God (Phil 4:7; Col 3:15; Rom 15:33), it is Christ who is that “peace” (Eph 2:14). It is he who proclaims and establishes it (Eph.2:17); and he is the presence of God, which brings the peace the world cannot give.

The sense of the Peace of Christ

“Peace” does not have just a secular sense, it being the absence of conflict (Gen 34:21; Jos 9:15; 10:1,4; Lk 14:32), the presence of harmony in the home and within the family (Is 38:17; Ps 37:11; 1 Cor 7:15; Mt 10:34; Lk 12:51), individual and communal (national) security and prosperity (Judg 18:6; 2 Kg 20:19; Is 32:18). “Peace”, is not just when human beings and their societies fulfil their respective duties and recognize the rights of other persons and societies” [43]; and it is not just one of the results of working for justice [44]. “Peace” essentially transcends the world and human efforts [45]. It is a gift of God (Is 45:7; Nm 6:26) bestowed on the “righteous/just”.

Generally expressed as “shalom” (Old Testament) and “eirēnē” (LXX & New Testament), “peace” of any kind is a wholeness determined by God and bestowed on “whom his favour rests”, namely, the just and righteous.

Thus, when Jesus forgave the sinner (Lk 7:50) and healed the sick (Mk 5:34), he sent them away “in peace”: “go in peace”. “Go in peace” was not a mere parting blessing. It was the bestowal of shalom. The forgiven and the cured were not restored only to wholeness in their body; they were also set at peace with God by means of their faith, and made totally wholesome before God and community [46].

The latter is also the sense of Jesus’ greeting of “peace” to his disciples on the morning of the resurrection (Jn 20:19-21). It was the pardoning of their betrayal of Jesus as well as the restoring of friendship. Jesus did not require an admission of guilt on the part of his disciples. There was no request for pardon; and no apology was proffered. There was simply a benign glossing over of all failings. In its place are given a free pardon and a conciliatory greeting of “peace”.

The “peace” of Jesus is our peace for which he bore our chastisements (Is 53:5). It is thus a free and an unmerited restoration to wholeness and to communion with God and with men; and it is received by all who welcome it as God’s grace and respond with faith ... ie, “those on whom God’s favour rests” (the just / the righteous).

It is as such righteous bearers on earth of Christ’s peace that Paul exhorts his Christian communities to pursue peace (Rm 14:19; Eph 4:3; Heb 12:14) and to be at peace with each other (Rm 12:18; 2 Cor 13:11), just as the Instrumentum laboris now wishes the Church in Africa to do. But it is also as such righteous bearers on earth of the peace of Christ that we need to recall, as we did with “justice”, that “peace” is an activity that goes beyond strict justice and requires love [47]. It derives from communion with God and is aimed at the wellbeing of man (humanity).

Thus, in inviting the Church in Africa and on the Islands to be “ministers (servants) of reconciliation, justice and peace”, following the first synod’s invitation of the Church to live in the communion of Church-family of God, the second synod invites the Church to make an experience of those virtues which establish our communion with God, and to witness to/live the same, namely, reconciliation, justice and peace out of love and mercy, on the continent. The implications of this ministry are what the (theme of the) synod now lays out in the symbolisms of salt and light: salt of the earth and light of the world.


Gathering the fruits of the first Synod in Ecclesia in Africa, Pope John Paul II extolled “witness” as an essential element of missionary cooperation, and recalled to the African Church that Christ does not only challenge his disciples in Africa to witness to him, but he gives them the same mandate he gave to his apostles on the day of his Ascension: “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8) in Africa [48].

Thus, likening the disciples of Christ in Africa to salt and light, the Holy Father says: “In the pluralistic society of our day, it is especially due to the commitment of Catholics in public life that the Church can exercise a positive influence. Whether they be professionals or teachers, businessmen or civil servants, law enforcement agents or politicians, Catholics are expected to bear witness to goodness, truth and justice and love of God in their daily life. The task of the faithful lay person is to be salt of the earth and light of the world, especially in those places where only the lay person is able to render the Church present” [49].

“Salt of the earth” and “light of the world” then were the images/metaphors under which the Pope captured his vision of the missionary activities of the Church in Africa and the Islands. This synod now invites the Church in Africa to understand her rendering of the services of reconciliation, justice and peace on the continent as being “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”.

Servants (diakonoi) of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace as “Salt of the Earth”

The metaphor, “salt”, which Jesus uses in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt 5:13; Mk 9:50; Lk 14:34) to describe the distinctiveness of the life of his disciples, is polyvalent. It has many senses. Thus, since the “Dead Sea” is also referred to as “sea of salt” (Gen 14:3), for those who dwelt close to the “Dead Sea”, “salt” can signify “death” (cfr. Gen 19:26). God, the Lord of life, however, will heal the waters of the “sea of salt” with the water from the temple and give it life (Ezech 47). In another sense, salt has a preservative power. It seasons and preserves food (Job 6:6; Mt 5:13; Lk 14:34); and in a related sense, as in the case of Elisha’s purification of the waters of Jericho (2 Kg 2:19-22), salt also has a purifying power.

The use of salt to seal friendship and pacts in the world of the Old Testament (Ezra 4:14) seems to underlie God’s use of the imagery to express the permanence and stability of the arrangement regarding the livelihood of priests in the Old Testament: “It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord ...” (Nm 18:19). The use of salt in covenant situations may also underlie Jesus’ invitation to his disciples to “have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another” (Mk 9:50), namely, to observe the mutual loyalty of covenant relationship and to live at peace.

But, salt also symbolizes “wisdom” and “moral strength”; and it is what gives value to things. That is what happens, for example, when salt is used to fertilize the soil.

Accordingly, when Jesus refers to his disciples as “salt of the earth”, and when the synod exhorts the Church in Africa to be “servants of reconciliation, justice and peace” as “salt of the earth”, both Jesus and the synod are making use of a polyvalent symbol to express the multiple tasks and demands of being a disciple and of being Church (family of God) in Africa. And so, as in the case of the prophets, the rejection of the Church and her Gospel is also the passing of judgement and the turning of the land into “salt land” (Dt 29:23; Jer 17:6; Ps 107:34). On a continent, parts of which live under the shadow of conflict and death, the Church must sow seeds of life: life-giving initiatives. She must preserve the continent and its people from the putrefying effects of hatred, violence, injustice and ethnocentrism. The Church must purify and heal minds and hearts of corrupt and evil ways; and administer her life-giving Gospel message to keep the continent and its people alive, preserving them in the path of virtue and gospel values, such as reconciliation, justice and peace [50]. But most importantly, the “salt” symbol invites the Church-Family of God in Africa to accept to expend herself (dissolve) for the life of the continent and its people.

Servants (diakonoi) of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, as “Light of the World”

The reference to the disciples as “light of the world” is recourse to an imagery, whose origins lie in the Old Testament as an attribute and mission of Zion, the city on a hill. Subsequently, the Servant-Messiah will be called upon to assume this as his vocation; and in Jesus, this will be fulfilled. Jesus, then, as “light of the world”, indeed, as the “true light which enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9) would constitute his disciples also as “light of the world”.

- Zion, the city on a hill and Light to the Nations

Zion was the mountain of the house of the Lord (Is 2:2); and it was the dwelling place of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sm 6; 1 Kg 8:20-21) and the Name of the Lord (Dt 12:5). The Ark of the Covenant contained the Law of God; and the Law was “a lamp and its teaching a light” (Prov 6:23; Ps 19:8; 119:105; Baruch 4:2).

God’s Name, however, represented “God’s presence”; and the light of God’s presence referred to God’s saving power and action (Is 10:17; Ps 27; 36:9) to save Jerusalem and his people [51].

Thus, on account of her possession of the light of knowledge of the Law and the light of God’s salvation, Jerusalem became a light to the nations and kings [52].

- The experience of Zion became the Vocation of the Servant-Messiah

In the hands of Isaiah, the experience of Jerusalem: light to the nations and kings, is presented as the vocation of a servant-figure. The servant of Yahweh, who is endowed with Yahweh’s Spirit to bring justice to the nations (Is 42:1; 51:4), is also given as a covenant to the people and “light to the nations” (Is 42:6; 49:8ff.). His call to be “light to the nations” entailed his own experience of Yahweh’s salvation (Is 49:7); and it was to enable Yahweh’s salvation to reach the ends of the earth. In these servant passages, “light” is knowledge of the Law and of the salvation of God; and it is a gift destined to reach all people.

- Jesus fulfils the vocation of the Servant-Messiah

The figure of the Servant-Messiah is fulfilled in Jesus. Mt 4:16 quotes Is 9:2 and alludes to the star at the birth of Jesus to underline the fulfilment and the continuation, in Jesus, of the revelatory and salvific symbolism of light in the Old Testament. Jesus is the “light of God’s salvation” (Jn 1:5; 3:19; 8:12; 12:46); and he is the “light of God’s Word/Law/Wisdom” (Jn 1:4; 9:5; 12:36, 46). Jesus is the “light of the world” (Lk 2:32; Jn 1:9), and he dies and rises to “proclaim light both to the people and to the gentiles” (Acts 26:23).

- Jesus’ Disciples and Christians as Light of the World

Thus the reference to the disciples as “light of the world” is nothing less than Jesus making his disciples his extension and representation in the world. “You are the light of the world”, then expresses the lofty vocation of the disciples of Jesus: a call to fulfil, in Christ, Israel’s vocation in the Old Testament to be witness of the light of knowledge of God’s Law (Gospel) and of his salvation in the world.

This lofty vocation of the followers of Jesus is what this Synod also proposes for the Church in Africa; and it begins with their call (baptismal), which makes them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that (they) you may announce the praises of him who called (them) you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pt 2:9). Responding to the call, they yield to enlightenment by the Word of truth (Eph 1:17ff.), the light of the Gospel of salvation (2 Cor 4:4) and its call to repentance. The resultant life of discipleship makes them “light in the Lord and children of light” (Eph 5:8), “sons of the light and sons of day” (1 Thess 5:5; cfr. Rom 13:12). “For God who said: Let light shine out of darkness, has shone on (their) our hearts to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). It leads to faith in Jesus and a sealing with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13) for the living of a blameless life; for “the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true” (Eph 5:9).

Conclusion: What Earth? What World?

In the days of Jesus, the earth and the world for which the disciples had to be “salt” and “light” were the earth and world outside the circle of the twelve, “those outside”, for whom “everything comes in parables” (Mk 4:11).

At this synod, the earth and the world, for which Catholics on the continent and its islands must be “salt” and “light”, as servants of reconciliation, justice and peace are Africa of our day, as described in the Instrumentum laboris and as sketched above [53]. It is there that, Jesus Christ, after revealing himself through Scriptures as our reconciliation, justice and peace, now calls and commissions his disciples in Africa and its islands to expend themselves, like salt and light, to build the Church in Africa as a veritable family of God through the ministries of reconciliation, justice and peace, exercised in love, like their master.

[1] JOHN PAUL II, Address in the Cathedral of Christ the King (17 September 1995), Johannesburg, South Africa: “Here in Johannesburg in South Africa, in union with the whole Church in this southern part of the continent, we are meeting to promulgate the Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Africa”, which contains the proposals made by the synod fathers at the end of the working session in Rome in April and May 1994. With the Apostolic Authority, which belongs to the Successor of Peter, I present to the whole Church of God in Africa and Madagascar, the insights, reflections and resolutions of the synod…”
[2] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, #13.[3] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Participants at the 12th Meeting of the Post-Synodal Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Second Special Assembly for Africa, 15th June, 2004.
[4] FIRST SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA, Instrumentum laboris, 1993, #1. The same document believed: “An hour of Africa appears to have come, a favourable hour which calls on Christ’s messengers to launch out into the deep in order to haul in an abundant yield for Christ”: Instrumentum laboris, 1993 #24.
[5] Ibidem., #22-24. “Signs of the times” refers to the African context, in which the Gospel has to be proclaimed.
[6] Cfr. The heroic lives of African martyrs and saints, on the one hand, and the heroic lives and struggles for independence of Africans in post-colonial Africa, South Africa, Sudan, etc., on the other hand.
[7] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Address to 12th Meeting of the Post-Synodal Council of the General Secretariat (15th July, 2004).
[8] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, #13-14, 39-42, 51; SECOND SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA, Lineamenta, # 6-8.
[10] This is what the Instrumentum laboris refers to as “a continuing dynamic” and illustrates copiously in #14-20.
[11] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Archbishop Eterovic on the occasion of the Meeting of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops (23 February 2005).
[12] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, # 4.
[13] Cfr. Ibidem., # 2-5. Indeed, it was SECAM, which “studied ways and means of planning a continental meeting of this kind. A consultation of the episcopal conferences and of each Bishop of Africa and Madagascar was organized, after which I was able to convoke a Special Assembly for Africa of Synod of Bishops.” (Ecclesia in Africa #5).
[14] SECOND SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA, Instrumentum laboris, #21-33.
[15] Nana Akuffo-Addo, Foreign Minister of Republic of Ghana (2001-2008) AU Summit. Pres. Kikwete of Tanzania says: “ existe déjà en Afrique des diregeants forts qui sont prêts à aller de l’avant; et nous souhaitons être à leurs côtés” (Fraternité Matin, Friday, 10/07/09, pg.1)
[16] NEPAD means New Economic Partnership for African Development. NEPAD requires that there is respect for democratic governance, and no tolerance of coup d’état. There is the setup of a Peer Review Mechanism to vet the performance of governments. Admittedly, the pace of work of the African Union Parliament and the implementation of the requirements of NEPAD by member states have been criticised of late for their slowness.
[17] The Lomé Culture is the name given to a bundle of development cooperation agreements between countries of the European Economic Community (EEC) and their former colonies. It began in 1957 at the “Treaty of Rome”, which established the EEC. Lomé I – Lomé IV arranged for Aid through Trade between EEC countries and 46 ACP countries (respect for human rights, democratic principles and rule of law).. The Yaoundé Agreement was signed in 1975 between EEC and ACP countries to help with infrastructure development in Francophone countries. Cotonou Agreement was signed in 2000 between EU and 77 ACP countries to last for 20 years. Aimed at poverty reduction, sustainable development, progressive integration of ACP economies into the world economy.
[18] The Primary Objectives of NEPAD are: to eradicate poverty; to place African countries on the path to sustainable growth and development; to halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process; and to accelerate the empowerment of women.[19] “Cooperation means to realize a vision together with the people of Africa: the vision of an Africa that is modern and independent, where self-confident African men and women shape their own life, their own future and pursue their own path of sustainable and democratic development. Only stimuli and efforts coming from within Africa will lead to success.” (Address by Dr. Uschi Eid, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, at TICAD III, [Tokyo International Conference on African Development], Tokyo 2003).
[20] Barack Obama made the same point to African leaders in his address to the Parliament of Ghana during his visit to the country this past July.
[21] In 2003, when President Clinton visited Ghana, The Herald Tribune wrote: “We have been told that Clinton is coming to change the way Americans think about of Africa, from a continent of despair to a place of opportunity and hope”.
[22] Cfr. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, Vatican 2009.
[23] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Poenitentia, # 2.
[24] Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, #63
[25] Cfr. Paul’s confession: “You have heard, I know, the story of my former way of life in Judaism. You know that I went to extremes persecuting the Church of God and I tried to destroy it.... But the time came, when he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by his favour chose to reveal his son to me,.... (Gal 1:13-16).
[26] In this sense, God is like the shepherd who searches for a lost sheep. He is like the woman who searches for a lost coin; and he is like the father whose love provokes the return of his prodigal son (cfr. Lk 15). It is like Jesus who finds Zachaeus in the sycamore tree and calls him down (Lk 19:5).
[27] Cfr. Pietro Bovati, Ristabilire la Giustizia, Analecta Biblica 110, PIB Roma, 1986.
[28] Sometimes, the request for settlement elicits and entails a concrete gesture, such as the recognition of the existence of rights, whose denial or abuse had precipitated the situation of conflict or hostility (cfr. Abraham and Abimelech in Gen 21:25-34).
[29] In this sense, there are factors, which can promote reconciliation, which servants of reconciliation must espouse; and there also factors, which can impede reconciliation which servants of reconciliation must eschew:
a. Hindering Factors: Impiety and disregard for one’s relationship with God; the denial of the rights of others, deception and prejudices, hypocrisy and false peace, selective attention, silence of complicity and failures of state structures.
b. Promoting Factors: Forgiveness, brotherly love, communication, dialogue, education for peace and reconciliation.
[30] Sacarmentum Mundi 3, 235.
[31] Cfr. PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, #26.
[32] Sacramentum Mundi 3, 236.
[33] Cfr. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 4, 88-85, 91-99.
[34] “Justice”, in whatever form it occurs, has the basic sense of all that is due a person by reason of his dignity and vocation to the communion of persons, (cfr. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #3, 63).
[35] This, incidentally, is also the basis for that fundamental imperative which calls for a positive respect for the dignity and rights of others, and contribution in solidarity to the meeting of necessities (cfr. Gaudium et Spes, # 23-32, 63-72; Pope John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Mater et Magistra). The common sonship of humanity requires men to be righteous, acting in conformity with God’s will, and bound in solidarity by God’s love, as by a Father’s love.
[36] Thus Tamar was more righteous than her father-in-law, because he would not fulfil family custom (Gen 38:26), David would not kill Saul, “for he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam 24:17, 6) and a “father” to him (1Sam 24:11). When a relationship changes, demands also change. One who cares for the fatherless, the widow and defends them is righteous (Job 29:12,16; Hos 2:19). One who treats servants humanely, lives at peace with neighbours, speaks well is righteous/just (Job 31:1-13; Prov 29:2; Is.35:15; Ps 52:3 etc.
Righteousness/Justice as a conduct, which devolves on members of a community, is sometimes safeguarded and enforced by judges when they settle cases at tribunals. This is the forensic sense of justice; wherefore, both God and the king play the role of judges (Dt 25:1; 1Kg 8:32; Ex 23:6ff; Ps 9:4; 50:6; 96:13). Righteous judgements restore a community to wholesomeness; and it is in this sense that righteous judgment and rule are made attributes of the Messiah-King.
[37] The “wicked”
רשע)) is one who exercises force and falsehood, ignores the duties which kinship and covenant lays upon him, tramples underfoot the rights of others (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol.4, 81).
[38] Pope John Paul II defines “mercy” as “a special power of love, which prevails over sin and infidelity of the chosen people” (Dives in Misericordia , #4.3).
[39] Thus, Pope John Paul II teaches that in relationships between individuals and social groups etc., “justice is not enough”. There is need for that “deeper power, which is love” (cfr. Dives in Misericordia # 12).
[40] THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, #2304. Cfr. also, Gaudium et Spes, #78.
[41] Ibidem.
[42] “Throughout Luke’s Gospel, ‘peace on earth’ comes to outcasts, disciples, foreigners, any who will receive God’s grace and respond with faith” (cfr. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green et alii, InterVarsity Press 1992 pg. 605).
[43] JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, #172.
[44] Gaudium et Spes #84.
[45] Although it is a task , something to work for, “peace” is a gift of God, something our earthly peace only dimly anticipates.
[46] In the case of the woman with haemorrhage (Mk 5:24-34), for example, Jesus did not only heal her religious and social uncleanness (issue of blood), he also exposed the woman’s secrecy and made a public disclosure of her faith (Mk 5:34; 2:5; 10:52) and healing. Her healing became a restoration to wholeness, to her community and to the God of her faith.
[47] Gaudium et Spes, #78.
[48] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, # 86
[49] Ibidem., #108.
[50] Cfr. SECAM, Seminar on the Synod, Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire, 2009: Carrefour Groupe # III.
[51] Thus the great restoration and vindication of Jerusalem by Yahweh was described by Isaiah in terms of the return of Yahweh’s light: “Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down nor your moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light (Is 60:19-20).
[52] The Testament of Levi would extend Jerusalem’s light to her children, the Israelites, and exhort them saying: “Be ye lights of Israel, purer than all gentiles... What would the gentiles do if you are darkened by transgressions” (14:3).
[53] Cfr. pages 22-26 above.

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The first Press Conference on the synod work (with simultaneous translations in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), will be held in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office, today, Monday 5 October 2009 at about 12.45 p.m.. Speakers:

- H. Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast (GHANA), Relator General
- H. Exc. Mons. Odon Marie Arsène RAZANAKOLONA, Archbishop of Tananarive (MADAGASCAR)
- Rev. Federico LOMBARDI, S.I., Director of the Holy See Press Office, Ex-officio Secretary of Commission for Information (VATICAN CITY)

The next Press Conferences will by held:
- Wednesday 14 October 2009 (after the Relatio post disceptationem)
- Friday 23 October 2009 (after the
- Saturday 24 October 2009 (after the Elenchus finalis propositionum)

The audio-visual operators (cameramen and technicians) and photographers are requested to apply to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for their entry permit.


In order to provide more accurate information on the work of the Synod, 4 language groups have been organized for the accredited journalists.

The location of the briefings and the name of the Press Attaché for each of the language groups are as follows:

Italian language group
Press Attaché: Rev. Msg. Giorgio COSTANTINO
Location: Journalists’ Room, Holy See Press Office

English language group
Press Attaché: Mr. Festus Abdul TARAWALIE
Location: John Paul II Conference Hall, Holy See Press Office

French language group
Press Attaché: Rev. Msg. Joseph Bato’ora BALLONG WEN MEWUDA
Location: Telecommunications Room, Holy See Press Office

Portouguese language groupPress Attaché: Mrs. Maria Dulce ARAÚJO ÉVORA
Location: “Blu” Room First Level, Holy See Press Office

On the following days the Press Attachés will hold briefings at about 1.10 pm:
- Tuesday 6 October 2009
- Wednesday 7 October 2009
- Thursday 8 October 2009
- Friday 9 October 2009
- Saturday 10 October 2009
- Monday 12 October 2009
- Tuesday 13 October 2009
- Thursday 15 October 2009
- Saturday 17 October 2009
- Tuesday 20 October 2009

Sometimes the Press Attachés will be accompanied by one of the Synod Fathers
or by an Expert for the briefing .

Any updates will be published as soon as possible.


On the following days, pools of accredited journalists will have access to the Synod Hall in general for the opening prayer of the morning General Congregations.
- Tuesday 6 October 2009
- Thursday 8 October 2009
- Friday 9 October 2009
- Saturday 10 October 2009
- Monday 12 October 2009
- Tuesday 13 October 2009

- Thursday 15 October 2009
- Saturday 17 October 2009
- Tuesday 20 October 2009
-Thursday 23 October 2009
- Saturday 24 October 2009

Registration lists for the pools will be available for reporters at the Information Accreditation desk of the Holy See Press Office (to the right of the entrance hall).

For the pools, the photoreporters and TV operators are requested to apply to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The Participants of the pools are requested to meet at 8.30 am in the Press Sector which is located outside, in front of the entrance to the Paul VI Hall. From there they will be accompanied at all times by an official of the Holy See Press Office (for reporters) and by an official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (for photoreporters and TV camera teams). Suitable dress is required.


The Bulletin of the Commission for information of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops entitled Synodus Episcoporum, published by the Holy See Press Office, will be issued in 6 language editions (plurilingual, Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), with 2 issues each day (morning and afternoon) or as required.

The morning issue will be published at the conclusion of the morning General Congregation, and the afternoon issue the following morning.

Distribution to accredited journalists will take place in the Journalists’ Room of the Holy See Press Office.

The plurilingual edition will contain summaries of the interventions by Synod Fathers, as prepared by themselves in their own languages. The other 5 editions will report the respective versions in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The fifth issue of the Bulletin will contain the Reports about relationships of the continents with Africa and the Report on Ecclesia in Africa, which will be presented in the Second General Congregation, this afternoon, Monday 5 October 2009.

The language editions of the Bulletin will also be available on the Holy See internet site:

Please note that the Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops is only a working instrument for journalistic use and that the translations from the original are not official.


The following events will be transmitted live on the TV monitors in the Telecommunications Room, in the Journalists’ Room and in the John Paul II Conference Hall of the Holy See Press Office:
- Saturday 10 October 2009 (18.00 am): Rosary Prayer with University Students from Rome (Paul VI Hall)
- Sunday 11 October 2009 (ore 10:00):Solemn Concelebration with Canonizations (Saint Peter’s
- Tuesday 13 October 2009 (9.00 am): Part of the General Congregation during which the Relatio post disceptationem is presented.
- Sunday 25 October 2008 (9.30 am): Solemn Concelebration of the Holy Mass at the conclusion of the Synod (Saint Peter’s

Any updates will be published as soon as possible.


During the period of the Synod, a telephone news-bulletin will be available:
- +39-06-698.19 for the ordinary daily Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office;
- +39-06-698.84051 for the Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops - morning session;
- +39-06-698.84877 for the Bulletin of the Synod of Bishops - afternoon session.


During the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the Holy See Press Office will be open during the following hours, until 25 October 2009:
- From Monday 5 October to Friday 9 October 2009: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
- Saturday 10 October: 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
- Sunday 11 October: 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
- Monday 12 October: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
- Tuesday 13 October: 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
- From Wednesday 14 October to Saturday 17 October: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
- Sunday 18 October: 11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
- From Monday 19 October to Saturday 24 October: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
- Wednesday 15 October: 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
- Sunday 19 October: 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
- From Monday 20 October to Saturday 24 October: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
- Sunday 25 October: 9.00 a.m. to 1.00
The staff of the Information and Accreditation Desk (to the right of the entrance hall) will be available:
- Monday-Friday: 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
- Saturday: 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m.

Notice of any changes will be communicated as soon as possible and will be posted on the bulletin board in the Journalists’ Area of the Holy See Press Office, published in the Bulletin of the Commission for Information of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops and in the Service Information area of the Internet site of the Holy See.


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]