VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Fifteenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began this morning in the presence of the Holy Father. The meeting was dedicated to reading the reports of the Working Groups (or language groups).
The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa, and 224 Synod Fathers were present.
Following are excerpts from some of the reports:
PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE GROUP: COADJUTOR ARCHBISHOP GABRIEL MBILINGI C.S.SP. OF LUBANGO, ANGOLA, PRESIDENT OF THE INTER-REGIONAL MEETING OF THE BISHOPS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (IMBISA). "Some suggestions: (1) An explicit reference to the social doctrine of the Church, which must form part of our evangelising and catechising doctrine. (2) Catechesis must follow the catechumenal model which leads people to make a personal choice for Christ. (3) Highlight the vital function of consecrated life in the life and mission of the Church. ... (4) Present the world of politics as a form of service to society, helping Christian politicians to shoulder their responsibilities in accordance with their faith. ... As for the clergy, it is important to insist that they live their priestly ministry as service to the People of God and not as an exercise of authority. ... (5) Decisively, clearly and precisely denounce serious human rights situations. (6) Have the courage to follow the path of reconciliation and purification of memory within the Church".
FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP E: FR. EDOUARD TSIMBA C.I.C.M., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY (SCHEUT FATHERS). "The search for truth is a necessary condition for reconciliation. ... To speak of reconciliation means to speak about the mercy of God. Only a person reconciled with God, a person who lives in peace, is able to bring peace. Therefore it is necessary to recall the value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the seriousness that agents (priests) must dedicate to this subject, setting aside all the time and preparation needed for both personal confession and community celebrations. ... The life and witness of many Christians, sometimes to the point of martyrdom, are worthy of being remembered and are a source of reinforcement for the faith. The life and example of Church workers is, without distinction, of great importance in this area of reconciliation. ... We must inspire the collaboration of men as well as women, using their qualities in the Church and in society. May all Christians, each according to their ministry, be proud of being such and of demonstrating it in their lives. ... Holiness is a plea for us all, men and women, and is worthy of an important place in the text".
FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP A: FR. GERARD CHABANON M. AFR., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE MISSIONARIES OF AFRICA (WHITE FATHERS). "Two important themes: (1) The family: This is the base cell of Christian society and communities. It is threatened by poverty, poor government, difficulties in teaching children, violence and the irresponsibility by fathers of families who abandon their wives and children. (2) Islam: ... There are many different situations in Africa, in particular between North and South of the Sahara. 'Arab-ness' and 'African-ness' do not always share the same values. A dialogue of life and a social dialogue could be developed between Christians and Muslims. Emphasis was given to the fact that we must aim everywhere at freedom of conscience and reciprocity of worship".
ENGLISH-FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP A: BISHOP JEAN MBARGA OF EBOLOWA, CAMEROON. "In general, the 'relatio post disceptationem' was positively received. ... However, a multi-ministerial vision of the Church would have given more importance to the place and mission of all categories of the People of God in the Church, especially lay people. The question of tribalism in the Church is still the major challenge. A balance could have been found between theological developments and the extent of the human dramas in Africa to which the Synod Fathers must find answers. The prophetic action of the 'justice and peace' commissions are deserving of greater consideration. ... Ecclesial communion is a force which must allow Africans to confront their challenges with hope and ... in universal solidarity".
This afternoon and tomorrow morning, the Synod Fathers will again meet in language groups to prepare their proposals, which they will then submit to the Secretariat General of the Synod for presentation to the Holy Father.
SE/FIFTEENTH CONGREGATION/... VIS 20091015 (740)