34 - 25.10.2009
- CONVIVIUM WITH THE HOLY FATHER
- PAPAL CHAPEL PRESIDED OVER BY THE HOLY FATHER FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THE II SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
- ANGELUS DOMINI
CONVIVIUM WITH THE HOLY FATHER
- GREETING BY THE HOLY FATHER
After participating in the Twentieth General Congregation, for voting and approving the Propositions, Saturday 24 October 2009 the Pope had lunch at 1:00 pm, with the Synod Fathers and the Participants of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. At the end, he addressed them with the words which we publish here below.
GREETING BY THE HOLY FATHER
Dear brothers and sisters,
Now is the time to give thanks. First of all to the Lord who convoked us, united us to listen to His Word, the voice of the Holy Spirit, and thus gave us the possibility to find the path of unity in the multiplicity of experiences, unity of faith and communion in the Lord. Therefore, the expression Church-Family of God is not only a concept or an idea, it is a real experience we have lived these past weeks: we were truly united, here, as the Family of God. We also did some good work, with the Lords help.
I could say that the theme itself was not an easy challenge, containing two dangers. The theme Reconciliation, justice and peace certainly implies a strong political dimension, even if it is obvious that reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without a deep purification of the heart, without renewal of thought, a metanoia, without something new that can only come from the encounter with God. But even if this spiritual dimension is profound and fundamental, the political dimension is also very real, because without political achievements, these changes of the Spirit usually are not realized. Therefore the temptation could have been in politicizing the theme, to talk less about pastors and more about politicians, thus with a competence that is not ours.
The other danger was - to avoid this temptation - pulling oneself into a purely spiritual world, in an abstract and beautiful world, but not a realistic one. A pastors language, instead, must be realistic, it must touch upon reality, but within the perspective of God and His Word. Therefore this mediation involves, on one hand being truly tied to reality, taking the care to talk about what is, and on the other hand not fall into technically political solutions: this means to demonstrate a concrete but spiritual word. This was the main problem for this Synod and it seems to me that, thanks to God, we managed to resolve it, and for me this is also a reason for thanks because it makes the post-synodal document easier to be draft.
Now I would like to return some thanks. Above all I would like to thank the presidents delegate who moderated the meetings of the Synod with great sovereignty and also with cheer. I also thank the relators: we now have seen and touched - so to speak - with our hands that they bore the greatest burden of work, they worked nights and even Sundays, they worked at lunchtime and now truly merit a round of applause from us.
Here I can announce that I have decided to nominate Cardinal Turkson the new president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, successor to Cardinal Martino. Thank you, your Eminence, for having accepted; we are happy to have you among us. Then, I thank all the Fathers, the fraternal delegates, the auditors, the experts and thanks, above all, to the translators for they too have a part in the weave of creating Pentecost. Pentecost means to understand each other: without translators this bridge to understanding would be missing. Thank you! And especially my thanks go to the Secretary General, his team, who silently guided and organized us very well.
The Synod ends and does not end, not only because the work goes ahead with the Post-Synodal Exhortation: Synodos means common path. Let us remain on the common path with the Lord, let us go before the Lord to prepare the roads, to help Him, to open the doors of the world that He may create His Kingdom among us. In this sense my blessing is upon all of you. Let us now say the prayer of thanks for the meal all together.
[00343-02.03]  [Original text: Italian]
At the end of the Convivium, the Holy Father announced the nomination as the President of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace His Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast (GHANA), Relator General of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
PAPAL CHAPEL PRESIDED OVER BY THE HOLY FATHER FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THE II SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
- HOMILY BY THE HOLY FATHER
At 10 this morning 25 October 2009, XXX Sunday of Ordinary Time, in the Vatican Basilica, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, the Holy Father Benedict XVI presided over the Celebration of the Eucharist with the Synod Fathers, for the conclusion of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops which was celebrated in the Synod Hall of the Vatican from 4 October 2009, on the synodal 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).
239 Synodal Fathers and other participants and collaborators concelebrated with the Pope, of which 33 are Cardinals, 75 Archbishops, 120 Bishops and other 8 Presbyters (8 Synodal Fathers, 5 members of the General Secretariate, 4 Auditors, 15 Experts, 2 Press Attachés, 25 Assistants, and 3 Translators). In total there were 294 Concelebrants.
While the Holy Father and the Concelebrants approached the Altar, Enwere m anuri (What joy) in Igbo and Psalm 46 Iubilate Deo were sung.
The following went to the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer: the President Delegate His Em. Card. Francis ARINZE, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Divine Cult and the Discipline of the Sacraments (VATICAN CITY), His Em. Card. Wilfrid Fox NAPIER, O.F.M., Archbishop of Durban (SOUTH AFRICA) and His Em. Card. Théodore-Adrien SARR, Archbishop of Dakar (SENEGAL); the General Relator His Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast (GHANA); the Secretary General His Exc. Mons. Nikola ETEROVIĆ (VATICA CITY); the Special Secretaries His Exc. Mons. Damião António FRANKLIN, Archbisop of Luanda (ANGOLA) and His Esc. Mons. Edmond DJITANGAR, Bishop of Sarh (CHAD).
The First Reading was in Portuguese, the Responsorial Psalm in Italian and the Second Reading in English. The Gospel was in Latin. The Prayer of the Faithful was in French, Kikongo, Malagasy, Swahili and Igbo. During the offertorial rites the Tewo gbebowa (Receive our sacrifice) in Yoruba was sung; the Lamb of God was sung in Efik, Eyen eron. The communion hymns were Psalm 118, in Latin, and Munzo ya (Lord we are here), in Hausa. At the end the Ave Maria in Igbo and a liturgical chant in Geez.
During the Holy Mass, after the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father gave the following homily.
HOMILY BY THE HOLY FATHER
Dear brothers and sisters!
Here is a message of hope for Africa: we have just listened to the Word of God. It is the message that the Lord of history never tires of renewing for the oppressed and overcome humanity of every era and every land, since the time he revealed to Moses His will for the Israelites slaves of Egypt: I have witnessed the affliction of my people... and have heard their cry... so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them... and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex 3:7-8). What is this land? Is it not the Kingdom of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, to which all of humanity is called? Gods plan does not change. It is the same as that prophesied by Jeremiah, in the magnificent oracles called The Book of Consolation, from which today the first reading is taken. It is an announcement of hope for the people of Israel, laid low by the invasion of the army of Nebuchadnezzar, by the devastation of Jerusalem and the Temple and the deportation to Babylonia. A message of joy for the remainder of Jacobs sons, which announces a future for them, because the Lord will lead them back to their lands, by a straight and easy road. The persons needing support, like the blind or the cripple, the pregnant woman and the woman in labor, will all experience the strength and tenderness of the Lord: He is a father for Israel, ready to care for it as if it were his firstborn (cfr. Jer 31:7-9).
Gods Plan does not change. Through the centuries and turns of history, He always aims at the same finality: the Kingdom of liberty and peace for all. And this implies His predilection for those deprived of freedom and peace, for those violated in their dignity as human beings. We think in particular of our brothers and sisters who in Africa suffer poverty, diseases, injustice, wars and violence, forced migration. These favorite children of the heavenly Father are like the blind man in the Gospel, Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46) at the gates of Jericho. Jesus the Nazarene passed that way. It is the road that leads to Jerusalem, where the Paschal Event will be take place, His sacrificial Easter, towards which the Messiah goes for us. It is the road of His exodus which is also ours: the only way that leads to the land of reconciliation, justice and peace. On that road, the Lord meets Bartimaeus, who has lost his sight. Their paths cross, they become a single path. The blind man calls out, full of faith Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!. Jesus replies: Call him!, and adds: What do you want me to do for you?. God is light and the creator of light. Man is the son of light, made to see the light, but has lost his sight, and is forced to beg. The Lord, who became a beggar for us, walks next to him: thirsting for our faith and our love. What do you want me to do for you?. God knows the answer, but asks; He wants the man to speak. He wants the man to stand up, to find the courage to ask for what is needed for his dignity. The Father wants to hear in the sons own voice the free choice to see the light once again, the light, the reason for the creation. Master, I want to see! And Jesus says to him: Go your way; your faith has saved you. Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mk 10:51-52).
Dear Brothers, we give thanks because this mysterious encounter between our poverty and the greatness of God was achieved also in the Synodal Assembly for Africa that has ended today. God renewed his call: Take courage! Get up... (Mk 10:49). And the Church in Africa, through its Pastors, having come from all the countries in the continent, from Madagascar and the other islands, has embraced the message of hope and light to walk on the path that leads to the Kingdom of God. Go your way; your faith has saved you (Mk 10:52). Yes, faith in Jesus Christ - when properly understood and experienced - guides men and peoples to liberty in truth, or, to use the three words of the synodal theme, to reconciliation, to justice and to peace. Bartimaeus who, healed, follows Jesus along the road, is the image of that humanity that, illuminated by faith, walks on the path towards the promised land. Bartimaeus becomes in turn a witness of the light, telling and demonstrating in the first person about being healed, renewed, regenerated. This is the Church in the world: a community of reconciled persons, operators of justice and peace; salt and light amongst the society of men and nations. Therefore the Synod strongly confirmed - and manifested this - that the Church is the Family of God, in which there can be no divisions based on ethnic, language or cultural groups. Moving witnesses showed us that, even in the darkest moments of human history, the Holy Spirit is at work and transforming the hearts of the victims and the persecutors, that they may know each other as brothers. The reconciled Church is the potent leaven of reconciliation in each country and in the whole African continent.
The second reading offers another perspective: the Church, the community that follows Christ on the path of love, has a sacerdotal form. The category of priesthood, as the interpretive key of the Mystery of Christ and, consequently, of the Church, was introduced in the New Testament, by the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews. His intuition originates from Psalm 110, quoted in todays words, where the Lord God assures the Messiah with a solemn promise: you are a priest for ever of the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4). A reference which leads to another, taken from Psalm 2, in which the Messiah announces the Lords decree which says about Him: You are my son, today have I fathered you (PS 2:7). From these texts derives the attribution to Jesus Christ of a sacerdotal character, not in the generic sense, rather of the order of Melchizedek, in other words the supreme and eternal priesthood, of divine not human origins. If each supreme priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God (Heb 5:1), He alone, Christ, the Son of God, possesses a ministry that can be identified to His own person, a singular and transcendent ministry, on which universal salvation relies. Christ transmitted this ministry of His to the Church through the Holy Spirit; therefore the Church has in itself, in each of its members, because of Baptism, a sacerdotal characteristic. However - here is a decisive aspect - the priesthood of Jesus Christ is no longer primarily ritual, rather it is existential. The dimension of the rite is not abolished, but, as clearly seen in the institution of the Eucharist, takes its meaning from the Paschal Mystery, which completes the ancient sacrifices and surpasses them. Thus contemporarily a new sacrifice, a new ministry and a new temple are born, and all three coincide with the Mystery of Jesus Christ. United to Him through the Sacraments, the Church prolongs its saving action, allowing man to be healed, like the blindman Bartimaeus. Thus the ecclesial community, in the steps of its Master and Lord, is called to walk decisively along the path of service, to share the condition of men and women in its time, to witness to all the love of God and thus sow hope.
Dear friends, this message of salvation is always transmitted by the Church by joining evangelization and the promotion of humanity. Lets take the example of the historical Encyclical Popolarum progressio: what the Servant of God Paul VI elaborated in terms of reflection, the missionaries created and continue to create in the field, promoting a development that respects local cultures and the environment, following a logic that now, more than 40 years later, appears to be the only one capable of allowing the African people to emerge from the slavery of hunger and sickness. This means transmitting the announcement of hope, following a sacerdotal form, that is, living the Gospel in the first person, trying to translate it into projects and undertakings that are consistent with its principle dynamic foundation, which is love. In these three weeks, the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops has confirmed what my venerable predecessor John Paul II had already clearly focused on, and that I also wanted to look at more closely in the recent Encyclical Caritas in veritate: what is necessary, therefore, is the renewal of the model of global development, in such a way that it be capable of including within its range all peoples and not just the better off (No. 39). What the social doctrine of the Church has always maintained is what is required today of globalization (cf. ibid). This - we must remember - should not be understood fatalistically as though its dynamics were produced by anonymous impersonal forces or structures independent of the human will. Globalization is a human reality and as such can be modified in line with one or another cultural impositions. The Church works with its personalist and community concept to steer the globalization of humanity in relational terms, in terms of communion and the sharing of goods (cf. ibid No. 42).
Take courage! Get up... This is how the Lord of life and hope addresses the Church and peoples of Africa at the end of these weeks of Synodal reflection. Get up, Church in Africa, Family of God, because you are being called by the Heavenly Father whom your ancestors invoked as Creator, before knowing His merciful closeness, revealed in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Set out on the path of a new evangelization with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit. The urgent action of evangelization which has been spoken about so much in these days, also involves an urgent appeal for reconciliation, an indispensable condition for instilling in Africa justice among men and building a fair and lasting peace that respects each individual and people; a peace that requires and is open to the contribution of all people of good will irrespective of their religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social backgrounds. In such a challenging mission, pilgrim Church in Africa of the third millennium, you are not alone. The whole Catholic Church is near to you with its prayer and active solidarity, and from heaven you are accompanied by the African saints who, with their lives to the point of martyrdom sometimes, testified to the fullness of their faith in Christ.
Courage! Get up, African continent, land that welcomed the Savior of the World when as a child He had to take refuge with Joseph and Mary in Egypt to save His life from the persecution of King Herod. Welcome with renewed enthusiasm the Gospel proclamation so that the face of Christ may light with its splendor the multiplicity of cultures and languages of your peoples. As it offers the bread of the Word and the Eucharist, the Church also undertakes to operate, with every means at its disposal, to ensure that no African should be deprived of his or her daily bread. For this reason, along with the work of primary importance of evangelization, Christians are actively involved in interventions in favor of promoting humanity.
Dear Synodal Fathers, at the end of these reflections of mine, I want to salute you most warmly, and thank you for your edifying participation. Return home, you, pastors of the Church in Africa, take my blessing to your communities. Transmit to everyone the oft-heard appeal of this Synod for reconciliation, justice and peace. As the Synodal Assembly draws to a close, I have to renew my most vivid thanks to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and all their collaborators. I express my grateful thoughts to the choirs of the Nigerian community in Rome and the Ethiopian College who are contributing to the celebration of this liturgy. And finally I would like to thank everyone who has accompanied the Synodal work with their prayer. May the Virgin Mary recompense each and every one of them, and allow the Church in Africa to grow in every part of that great continent, spreading the salt and light of the Gospel everywhere.
[00344-02.01]  [Original text: Italian]
- WORDS BY THE HOLY FATHER
At the end of the Holy Mass celebrated this morning in the Vatican Basilica for the conclusion of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the Holy Father Benedict XVI went to the church steps to recite the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims present in St. Peters Square. The Holy Father spoke the words which we publish here below.
WORDS BY THE HOLY FATHER
Dear brothers and sisters!
A short while ago, with the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peters Basilica, the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops ended. Three weeks of mutual prayer and listening, to discern what the Holy Spirit says today to the Church that lives in the African Continent, but at the same time to the Universal Church. The Synodal Fathers, having come from all the Countries in Africa, presented the richness of the local Churches realities. Together we shared their joys for the dynamism of the Christian communities, which continue to grow in quantity and quality. We thank God for the missionary impetus that found a fertile terrain in many dioceses and which expresses itself by sending missionaries to other African Countries and to other Continents. Special emphasis was given to the family, which also in Africa constitutes the primary cell of society, but which today is threatened by ideological currents coming from outside as well. Then what can be said about the young people exposed to this sort of pressure, influenced by models of thought and behavior that contrast with the human and Christian values of the African peoples? Naturally during this Assembly, todays problems in Africa came out, as well as its great need for reconciliation, justice and peace. To this the Church answers re-proposing, with renewed impetus, proclaiming the Gospel and the act of human promotion. Enlivened by the Word of God and the Eucharist, it strives to make everyone have the necessary to live and that all may live an existence worthy of a human being.
Remembering the Apostolic Visit to Cameroon and Angola I did last March, which also had the aim of beginning the immediate preparation for the second Synod for Africa, today I would like to speak to all the African populations, in particular those who share the Christian faith, to give them ideally the Final Message of this Synodal Assembly. It is a Message that comes from Rome, the See of Peters Successor, who presides universal communion, but we can say, from another true sense, originates in Africa, gathering its experiences, expectations, projects and now returns to Africa, bearing the richness of a profound communion in the Holy Spirit. Dear brothers and sisters who are listening to me from Africa! I entrust to your prayer the fruits of the work of the Synodal Fathers work in a special way and I encourage you with the words of the Lord Jesus: be the salt and the light of the beloved African land!
While this Synod is ending, I would like to remind now that a Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled for next year. On the Occasion of my Visit to Cyprus, I will have the pleasure of presenting the Instrumentum laboris for that assize. Let us thank the Lord, who never tires of building His Church in communion, and we invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary with trust.
[in French] I welcome you with joy, for the prayer of the Angelus, dear French-speaking pilgrims. On this day when the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is ending, the liturgy reminds us that only Jesus Christ can fully heal the human person from the misery of a wounded heart. May our prayer be instantaneous so that all the peoples of the earth, and especially the peoples of Africa, may walk with Him on the path of life, reconciliation, justice and peace. May Our Lady of Africa protect and guide the men and women of this beloved continent! Good Sunday!
[in English] I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present today in Saint Peters Square. We have just concluded the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops which has been a period of grace. I invite all of you to pray for our brothers and sisters of Africa. May the Lord, who granted sight to the blind man of the Gospel, renew their faith that they may always see and follow clearly the path of reconciliation, justice and peace which leads to salvation. Upon all of you and upon all the people of Africa I invoke Gods abundant blessings.
[in German] From the heart I welcome the German-speaking guests here today in St. Peters Square. This Sundays Gospel, which we have just listened to during the Eucharistic celebration for the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops for Africa in St. Peters Basilica, tells about the healing of a blind man. Jesus heard the insistent cry of Bartimaeus and gave him back his sight. This encourages us, with all our personal trials, as well as the challenges and needs of the African continent, to turn to Christ full of faith and trust. He also gives us help and salvation. May the Lord watch over you and your families.
[in Spanish] I greet the Spanish-speaking faithful with affection. With the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peters Basilica this morning, the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is coming to an end. In an atmosphere of deep and fraternal ecclesial communion, we listened to eloquent testimonials of the great missionary dynamism of the African Church, as well as the important challenges it must face today. We ask the Lord, through the intercession of the most Holy Virgin Mary, to give the People of God in Africa a renewed evangelizing impetus, in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. Good Sunday!
[00345-02.02]  [Original text: plurilingual]