The New Evangelization - Africa


 

MESSAGE
Special Synod of Bishops for Africa


Here is the English text of the "Message of the Synod" released on the afternoon of Friday, 6 May 1994.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

1. Like Mary Magdalene on the morning of the Resurrection, like the disciples at Emmaus with burning hearts and enlightened minds, the Special Synod for Africa, Madagascar and the Islands, proclaims: Christ, our Hope, is risen. He has met us, has walked along with us. He has explained the Scriptures to us. Here is what he said to us: "I am the First and the Last, I am the Living One; I was dead, but behold, I am alive for ever and ever and I hold the keys of death and of the abode of the dead" (Rv 1: 17-18).

2. Right from its first session on Monday, 11 April 1994, the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops received from Christ himself its profound significance, namely, the Synod of Resurrection, the Synod of Hope. And as St John at Patmos during particularly difficult times received prophecies of hope for the People of God, we also announce a message of hope. At this very time when so much fratricidal hate inspired by political interests is tearing our peoples apart, when the burden of the international debt and currency devaluation is crushing them, we, the Bishops of Africa, together with all the participants in this holy Synod, united with the Holy Father and with all our Brothers in the Episcopate who elected us, we want to say a word of hope and encouragement to you, Family of God in Africa, to you, the Family of God all over the world: Christ our Hope is alive; we shall live!

3. At this hour of special heavenly goodwill for the land of Africa which Paul VI on the morrow of the Council prophetically called "the new fatherland of Christ", our whole being cries out with joy and thanksgiving to the living God for the great gift of the Synod: to the Father, whose family we are, to the Son, from whom derives our Brotherhood which overcomes fratricidal hate, to the Spirit of love, who moulds us into images of the Blessed Trinity.

4. To the Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who took the initiative in calling this Synod, and who was present during all the General Assemblies until the time of his accident, following attentively with love and encouragement, how shall we not say that we know he loves Africa with a deep fatherly and constructive love? Our heart knows this and is grateful.

5. Greetings to you, People of God in Africa, Madagascar and the Islands! You prepared this Synod actively and with enlightened zeal through your responses to the questionnaire contained in the Outline Document (Lineamenta) and through your reflections on the "Working Document" (the Instrumentum laboris). Besides, you have supported it with your prayers to ensure its success. And a success it was. Indeed the image we have of you now is one that more effectively touches and motivates us for the work of evangelization in our continent.

6. Right from the Opening Celebration on Sunday, 10 April, presided over by the Holy Father with 35 Cardinals, one Patriarch, 39 Archbishops, 146 Bishops and 90 Priests, this universality was experienced in a liturgy reflecting the inculturation going on in the African continent. Africa brought to this historic assembly the most deeply felt expression of the efforts at inculturation in which the whole people participates with a joy that is faith in life itself St Peter's Basilica re-echoed with the sound of tam-tams and xylophones, of castanets and gongs which for us mark the rhythm of the struggle between life and death. That this should happen on this Second Sunday of Easter when Christ triumphed over death gave the occasion a particularly rich significance. As the Pope, John Paul II, would remind us in his homily: Africa is a land loved by God.

7. The Synod just concluded has been for us the occasion to experience brotherhood, collegiality and ecclesial communion as in a family.

All the Bishops experienced the universality of the Church, which is not uniformity but rather communion in diversity compatible with the Gospel. They were all aware that "as members of the body of Bishops which succeeds the College of the Apostles, they are consecrated not for one Diocese alone, but for the salvation of the whole world" (Ad gentes, n. 38).

Evangelization

8. The first two weeks enabled us to listen to the Churches of Africa through the interventions of the Synod Fathers around the central theme, "The Church in Africa and her Evangelizing Mission towards the Year 2000: 'You will be my witnesses' (Acts 1: 8)", under the five subheadings, Proclamation, Inculturation, Dialogue, Justice and Peace, and Means of Social Communication.

Evangelization as Proclamation

9. Evangelization is the proclamation of the Good News of salvation realized in Jesus Christ and offered to all. This first proclamation ought to be centred on Christ, the same yesterday and today, the enduring and ever new manifestation of God's goodness towards us. In him the Spirit is given to us to accomplish our sanctification and to transform the world.

Unchanging in its content which is Christ, this evangelization will be "new in its ardour, new in its method, and new in its mode of expression" (John Paul II). Therefore it is not a theory but a life, a meeting of love which radically changes our life, today as at the beginning of the Church. The Spirit which gives the power to bear witness to Christ, dead and resurrected, sets the apostle on his missionary journey. It is the same Spirit which prepares all humanity for this meeting with Christ, in order to establish the Church, assembled by his Word and nourished by the Sacraments.

Therefore this first proclamation ought to bring about this overwhelming and exhilarating experience of Jesus Christ, who calls each one to follow him in an adventure of faith. This experience is characterized by an irresistible desire to share it. It must be communicated to the many in our continent and the whole world who have not heard the Good News. The faith contains in itself a missionary urgency. The certitude of having discovered in Jesus the "pearl of great price" of the Kingdom of God brings about a transformation which in turn implies newness of life. It demands a detachment, it uproots and launches one on mission both within one's country and outside to the ends of the earth. This initial Christian experience is sealed by the sacraments of Christian initiation. Within the established Church catechesis continues this experience in a more systematic way, through pastoral activity, organizing the liturgical and sacramental life, as well as the missionary task - all forms of evangelization. To evangelize is to bring about life in Christ, the unique Redeemer of mankind.

The Church in Africa, at this turning point of her history, should more than ever centre herself on Christ and submit herself to the guidance of His Spirit which works in each individual and in the Church already constituted as the work of Christ. This Spirit impels towards proclamation to all peoples. This focusing on the foundational experience of the Church is the first reason for calling this Synod.

Homage to the missionaries

10. The effort made by missionaries, men and women, who worked for generations on end on the African continent, deserves our praise and gratitude. They worked very hard, endured much pain, discomfort, hunger, thirst, illness, the certainty of a very short life span and death itself, in order to give us what was most dear to them: Jesus Christ. They paid a very high price to make us the children of God. Their faith and commitment, the dynamism and the ardour of their zeal have made it possible for us to exist today as Church-Family to the praise and glory of God. Very early they were joined in their witness by great numbers of the sons and daughters of the land of Africa as catechists, interpreters and collaborators of all kinds.

11. May their example animate, not only our young men and young women whom institutes are today recruiting in large numbers for the evangelization of peoples, but equally the local Churches they founded. When these Churches will see new institutes emerging from their bosom, institutes which demonstrate their solicitude for the whole Church, their determination to carry the Gospel to the yet unevangelized parts of the world, then the work of the missionary institutes would have achieved its true purpose. Their work continues as co-operation among the Churches (cf. Redemptoris missio, nn. 39 and 85).

12. In the cordial dialogue and collaboration with the missionary institutes, working on the African continent and in communion with the See of Peter, the Churches in Africa which take the initiative to found institutes of consecrated life and for the missions, unmistakably show that a new stage in the evangelization of Africa has now begun. In the past only the missionary institutes from the Northern hemisphere were evangelizing Africa.

At the end of a century, the statistics speak eloquently: 95 million Catholics. But this represents only 14 per cent of the total population of Africa. From this it follows that the primary proclamation is still both urgent and necessary, especially since other spiritual and religious currents are gaining ground. The new stage that has started demands from our Churches creativity and historic initiative. These initiatives well thought out and discerned in prayer cannot fail to receive the encouragement of this holy Synod. All our local Churches should burn with missionary ardour.

13. Such was and still is the proclamation that the Apostles and their successors passed on throughout the last twenty centuries. At each new epoch, with the Greeks and with the Latins, with the Anglo-Saxons and the Germanic peoples, the proclamation of the Word always brought about a profound transformation of individuals and of peoples, a transformation that is a new creation. It was fidelity to the biblical structure of revelation. Evangelization appeared clearly to all under its double aspect as Proclamation of the Word of Salvation and Inculturation. From this emanates a double demand of witness for each particular Church and each baptized person, namely to welcome the Good News down to the roots of our cultures and to carry it to all peoples, even to the ends of the earth. An evangelization limited only to the dimension of proclamation would be disfigured, for it is a dialogue of Love of which the inculturation of the Message is the necessary second moment.

Evangelization: Inculturation and Holiness

14. This dialogue of love with God the Holy One carries with it an unavoidable demand which all felt deeply, and which many enunciated with insistence and theological depth: holiness. When the word takes on our nature, he purifies it of sin and he bestows on it his most fundamental and most beautiful attribute, namely holiness. When he takes Lip his due place in a culture, he awakens all the energies of the first creation which it expresses, investing them with the power of his redemption.

15. But the culture which gave its identity to our people is in serious crisis. On the eve of the 21st century when our identity is being crushed in the mortar of a merciless chain of events, the fundamental need is for prophets to arise and speak in the name of the God of hope for the creation of a new identity. Africa has need of holy prophets.

To be witnesses

16. Like the incarnation, inculturation reaches its summit in the paschal mystery in which Christ gives testimony to the truth even with his own blood; on the Cross he recapitulates all that is true and holy in the cultures to use them in manifesting the Blessed Trinity. He is the first witness.

17. The baptized person who receives from the risen Christ the mandate to bring evangelization to its term and who responds to it becomes in his turn a witness. He evangelizes the cultural roots of his person as of his community and takes up the socioeconomic and political challenges in order to be able to express the message in his own words and in a new dynamic of life which transforms the culture and the society.

 

The domains of inculturation

18. The field of inculturation is vast; the Synod which has so strongly insisted on its spiritual dimension by the place it accords to witnessing demands that none of its dimensions, theological, liturgical, catechetical, pastoral, juridical, political, anthropological, and communicational be lost sight of. It is the entire Christian life that needs to be inculturated. A special attention should be paid to liturgical and sacramental inculturation, because it directly concerns all the people who are already participating in it. Among the other basic conditions that will enable it to touch the lives of the people, there is the translation of the Bible into every African language. We also need to promote the personal and communal reading of the Bible within the African context and in the spirit of tradition.

19. Many concrete practical domains for an inculturation which seeks to encompass the whole of life were discussed: health, illness and healing according to traditional methods, marriage, widowhood, and still other areas.

 

Dialogue

20. The Church-Family has its origin in the Blessed Trinity at the depths of which the Holy Spirit is the Bond of Communion. It knows that the intrinsic value of a community is the quality of relation which it makes possible. This Synod launches a strong appeal for dialogue within the Church and among religions.

 

An appeal for dialogue with Traditional Religion

21. Particular attention should be paid to our customs and traditions in so far as they constitute our cultural heritage. They belong to oral cultures and their survival depends essentially on the dialogue of generations to assure their transmission. Corporate personalities, wise thinkers who are its guarantors, will be the principal interlocutors in this Phase of profound change in our cultures. A dialogue with the guarantors of our cultural values and of our traditional religion (ATR) structured around the cultural heritage is strongly recommended in our local Churches.

 

Dialogue with our Christian brethren

22. We call for the intensification of dialogue and ecumenical collaboration with our brethren of the two great African Churches of Egypt and Ethiopia and with our Anglican and Protestant brethren. We wish together to bear witness to Christ and to proclaim the Gospel in all the languages of Africa. The presence at this Synod of our brothers of the Churches and ecclesial communities of Africa has been deeply appreciated by all and we are grateful to them for addressing the Assembly and for their participation in its work.

 

Dialogue with Muslims

23. We assure our Muslim brethren, who freely lay claim to faith in Abraham (cf. Nostra aetate, n. 3), that we wish to collaborate with them, everywhere on the continent, in working for the peace and justice which alone can give glory to God.

The Living God, Creator of Heaven and Earth and the Lord of History is the Father of the One great human Family to which we all belong as members. He wants us to bear witness to him through our respect for the faith, religious values and traditions of each person. He wants us to join hands in working for human progress and development at all levels, to work for the common good, while at the same time assuring reciprocal respect for the religious liberty of individual persons and that of communities (Redemptoris missio, n. 39). God does not want to be an idol in whose name one person would kill other people. On the contrary, he wills that in justice and peace we join together in the service of life. As servants of his Life in the hearts of men and in human communities, we are bound to give to one another the best there is in our faith in God, our common Father.

To the Local Churches The Church-as-Family

24. Churches of Africa, People of God assembly throughout the world, it is primarily to you that we proclaim Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:23), and it is from you that we wish to have re-echoed that he was put to death but is alive, that he gave his life for the world and that he gave it in abundance. The Synod has highlighted that you are the Family of God. It is for the Church-as-Family that the Father has taken the initiative in the creation of Adam. It is the Church-as-Family which Christ, the New Adam and Heir to the nations, founded by the gift of his body and blood. It is the Church-as-Family which manifests to the world the Spirit which the Son sent from the Father so that there should be communion among all. Jesus Christ, the only-begotten and beloved Son, has come to save every people and every individual human being. He has come to meet each person in the cultural path inherited from the ancestors. He travels with each person to throw fight on his traditions and customs and to reveal to him that these are a pre-figuration, distant but certain, of him, the New Adam, the Elder of a multitude of brothers which we are.

25. Envy, jealousy and the deceit of the devil have driven the human Family to racism, to ethnic exclusivism and to hidden violence of all forms. They have led to war, to the division of the human race into first, second, third and fourth worlds, to placing more value on wealth than on the life of a brother, to the provocation of interminable conflicts and wars for the purpose of gaining and maintaining power and for self-enrichment through the death of a brother. But Christ has come to restore the world to unity, a single human Family in the image of the trinitarian Family. We are the Family of God: this is the Good News! The same blood flows in our veins, and it is the blood of Jesus Christ. The same Spirit gives us life, and it is the Holy Spirit, the infinite fruitfulness of divine love. But for such a Church to exist, we must have priests who live their priesthood as a vocation to spiritual paternity, Christian families that are authentic domestic churches, and ecclesial communities that are truly living. For that reason the Synod spent a long time considering the qualities needed by these pastoral agents and their formation. It makes a first appeal to the diocesan priests, their primary collaborators in evangelization.

 

To diocesan priests

26. Your priestly ordination has made you representatives of Christ, the Pastor and Spouse of the Church. The Synod, which has dwelt on the mystery of the Church, gives thanks to God for the great gift which you represent. It expresses thanks to you for having accepted with generosity to dedicate your lives to the Church-as-Family.

The Synod therefore invites you to keep in mind the grace which you have received. and to allow it to be dynamic within you. You are called to reproduce in yourselves together with Christ the perfect sonship of the Father, whose all powerful and creative love is faithful, patient, merciful and the gracious source of plenty. You are called in the Son to respond to every work of the Father in the particular situation of your parish community, in which there should be no distinction of persons. In fact the parish is the concrete place where you serve the universal mission, in which some of you already take part as priests of Fidei Donum. Mindful of the communion of the priestly fraternity, you will support and care for your brothers in the priesthood, realizing that you too are cared for and often supported. You will lead a life of profound pastoral charity, filled with care for all. Fidelity to celibacy which is inseparable from chastity has, as you know from experience, its source in an intense love of Christ. Be faithful to the life of prayer and spiritual combat which maintain and deepen this love. This is the condition of your credibility as you dedicate yourselves to pastoral work in the Church. Do not be found wanting in the matter of God's wonderful plan to make us his Family. Africa, which loves family life, reveres the father figure. Do not disappoint her. The Church counts on you to exercise faithfully this spiritual fatherhood without sparing yourselves.

 

The Christian family

27. The vitality of the Church-as-Family, which the Synod wishes to highlight, can only be effective insofar as all our Christian families become authentic domestic churches. It is there in effect that you, fathers, mothers and children, live, in the image of the Holy Family, the richness of the love which is in the heart of God. It is there that you learn to share and to increase in the love of God and of men. The extended African family is the sacred place where all the riches of our tradition converge. It is therefore the task of you Christian families to bring to the heart of this extended family a witness which transforms from the inside our vision of the world, beginning from the spirit of the Beatitudes, without forgetting the various tasks that are yours in society.

 

The Church-as-Family and Small Christian Communities

28. The Church, the Family of God, implies the creation of small communities at the human level, living or basic ecclesial communities. In such communities, which are cells of the Church-as-Family, one is formed to live concretely and authentically the experience of fraternity. In them the spirit of disinterested service, solidarity and a common goal reigns. Each is moved to construct the Family of God, a family entirely open to the world from which absolutely nobody is excluded. It is such communities that will provide the best means to fight against ethnocentricism within the Church itself and, more widely, within our nations. These individual Churches-as-Family have the task of working to transform society.

 

Save the family

29. This international Year of the family is also the one in which the ecclesial consciousness of Africa, began after Vatican II, has, in the heart of this holy Synod , borne the good fruit of the Church as the Family of God (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 6).

30. During this Synod, we became aware of certain orientations of the preparatory document for the Cairo Conference. These create a situation in which there is a deliberate intention to impose, with strong financial backing, on the nations of the world as a whole the liberalization of abortion, the promotion of a life-style without moral reference, and the destruction of the family as it was willed by God.

We all condemn this individualistic and permissive culture which liberalizes abortion and makes of the death of the child simply a matter for the decision of the mother. We condemn the enslavement of man to money, the new god, through which pressure is put on the poor nations to force them to choose options in Cairo which are contrary to life and morality. We appeal to all men of good will to take action with a view to putting a stop to this anti-life plan and we appeal to all believers to join with us in uninterrupted prayer that this plan may not see the light of day.

The Church, which has been and continues to be dedicated to work towards human promotion and the development of peoples, is contributing together with the United Nations to the success of the International Year of the Family. The Synod, in union with the Holy Father, and with the universal Church, makes an appeal to the 53 African nations and to all the signatory nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights who will be present at the forthcoming World Conference on Population and Development in Cairo: "Do not allow the African family to be ridiculed on its own soil"; "Do not allow the International Year of the Family to become the year of the destruction of the family".

 

The Church-as-Family at the Service of Society: Justice and Peace

31. The Synod occupied itself extensively with the grave cultural, socioeconomic and political problems of the continent, during these critical and crucial years, full of uncertainty and chaos, of convulsion and upheaval. The Synod wishes to reiterate to all the sons and daughters of Africa, that in the midst of all these torments our hope of liberation lies in the Redeemer of mankind who gave his Spirit in order that we might resolutely assume our responsibilities.

32. The Saviour has bestowed on us those two great gifts of the Kingdom of God which lie is in person: Justice and Peace. The Synod demands greater justice between North and South. There should be an end to presenting us in a ridiculous and insignificant light on the world scene, after having brought about and maintained a structural inequality and while upholding unjust terms of trade! The unjust price system brings in its wake an accumulation of the external debt which humiliates our nations and gives them a regrettable sense of inferiority and indigence. In the name of our people we reject this sense of culpability which is imposed on us. But at the same time we appeal to all our African brothers who have embezzled public funds that they are bound in justice to redress the wrong done to our peoples.

33. By the same token we do not wish to deny our own responsibilities as pastors. We have not always done what we could in order to form the laity for life in society, to a Christian vision of politics and economics. A protracted absence of the lay faithful from this field has led them to believe that the faith has nothing to do with politics. This Synod encourages all Christians who are so gifted to become engaged in the political field, and we invite all without exception to educate themselves for democracy. The sanctification of the temporal order is a characteristic proper to the secular vocation of the laity (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 31). There is a need for prophets for our times, and the whole Church should become prophetic.

34. If we desire peace, we should all work for justice, we should foster the rule of law. In many cases, people have turned to the Church that she might accompany them as they set out on the journey of the democratic process. Consequently, democracy should become one of the principal routes along which the Church travels together with the people. Hence education towards the common good as well as to a respect for pluralism will be one of the pastoral tasks which are a priority for our times. The lay Christian, engaged in the democratic struggle according to the spirit of the Gospel, is the sign of a Church which participates in the promotion of the ride of law everywhere in Africa.

 

An appeal to political leaders

35. The "fullness of love" (Eph 3:15-19), which is holiness, should also be sought in politics, which Pius XI defined as "the highest form of charity". The Synod prays that there will rise up in Africa saintly politicians and saintly heads of state. They will be men who love their people to the end, and who wish to serve rather than be served. It is their duty to work for the restoration of the dignity to our countries and to promote brotherhood. Thus they will hold in check the lust for political hegemony, both internal and external, which sow the seeds of division and hate which give rise to wars. We thank our brothers in the military for the service -that they assume in the name of ,our countries. We remind them, however, that they will have to answer before God for every act of violence against the lives of innocent people.

36. We salute with joy the democratic process which has begun in many countries of our continent. We hope that this process will be consolidated and we take particular pleasure in sharing the joy that is in the hearts of the people of South Africa, after so many decades of suffering and lack of mutual understanding. We share in the yearning of so many other people who still yearn after the establishment of the Rule of Law in their countries. We pray that all obstacles and resistance to the establishment of the rule of law may be promptly removed, thanks to the concerted action of all the protagonists and to their sense of the common good. May brotherly dialogue rather than the use of arms resolve all tensions!

The Synod denounces and emphatically condemns the lust for power and all forms of self-seeking as well as the idolatry of ethnicity which lead to fratricidal wars. These are the things which bring on Africa the shame of being the continent where the greatest number of refugees and displaced persons are found.

 

Support for refugees, displaced persons and war-torn populations

37. The continent is burning and bleeding in many places. The cries of the people of Rwanda, Sudan, Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and parts of Central Africa rend our hearts. United with the dozens of millions of refugees and displaced persons, we ask the United Nations to intervene in order to re-establish peace. So many of our brothers and sisters from numerous countries of the continent live in exile because of dictatorship and all kinds of violence and are thus prevented from using their talents in the service of their own people for justice, tranquility and peace. To all the Synod expresses its union in heart and prayer and invites them to put their hope in Christ, who has assumed and continues to assume all their sufferings for a new heaven and a new earth. Let them remember that "hope never fails" and let them offer their suffering as an ardent prayer to obtain peace for Africa.

 

The poor, the sick and the victims of AIDS

38. To all of you, brothers and sisters, tried in your dignity by misery, sickness and all sorts of suffering, moral or physical, especially by AIDS which is claiming so many lives in our continent, we express our compassion and we pray for you to the Father of mercy and consolation. May he deign to make his presence felt to widows and orphans.

 

Social workers and development agents

39. We wish to thank in a special way all the men and women, especially the religious, engaged in the service of the suffering members of the African family. They manifest the face of Christ in his continual love towards the sick and the handicapped. We also express our gratitude to all Christians and to all men of goodwill who are working in the fields of assistance and health-care with Caritas and other development organizations. What they have accomplished in enabling many families to improve their lot gives us reason for hope.

 

Our Christian brothers and sisters in the Northern hemisphere

40. With all our apostolic conviction, we turn to our Christian brothers and sisters and to all people of good will in the Northern hemisphere. We request them to intervene with those in responsible political and economic positions in their respective countries as well as those in international organizations. It is imperative that there be a stop to arms sales to groups locked in conflict in Africa.

41. It is a matter of urgency to find a just solution to the problem of the debt which crushes the greater part of the peoples of the continent and which renders futhe every effort at economic recovery. Together with the Holy Father and the Pontifical Council for Justice, and Peace, we ask for at least a substantial, if not a total, remission of the debt. We also simultaneously call for the formation of a more just international economic order, in order that our nations may eventually be able to take their place as worthy partners. Our continent also suffers from continual degradation arising industrialized societies, from the imposition on our societies of socioeconomic measures from abroad which lead to life styles that are contrary to the dignity of the African as indeed of all men and women. We ask our brothers and sisters of other continents to see to it that due respect is given to Africa and Africans, as well as those of them who have immigrated to the Northern hemisphere. only thus shall we succeed in building up the world family which the Creator invites us to form together on this earth, which he has given us to administer for the common good of humanity.

42. We are grateful to our brother Bishops of the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops for having recently launched an appeal to the same effect: "The cries of the suffering Christ come to us today with particular force from the South of the planet, a place where peoples in extreme poverty call from us a solidarity which is bold and efficacious against the hunger, the innumerable obstacles and injustices which afflict them. It is demanded of us that we respond to these appeals with concrete options. These include the abolition of the arms trade, the opening of our markets, a more equitable settlement of the international debt, as well as anything else which, in those regions, may promote the development of the culture and the economy together with the growth of democracy. Moreover, Europe herself would well benefit from the spiritual riches of other countries and cultures" (Final Declaration of the Synod of the Bishops of Europe, n. 11).

 

Examination of conscience of the Churches of Africa

43. The Churches in Africa are also aware that, insofar as their own internal affairs are concerned, justice is not always respected with regard to those men and women who are at their service.

 

If the Church should give witness to justice, she recognizes that whoever dares to speak to others about justice should also strive to be just, in their eyes. It is necessary therefore to examine with care the procedures, the possessions and the life-style of the Church.

44. In other respects the Synod has made a serious examination of the question of the financial self-reliance of our Churches. Each of the Catholic faithful should make his own that examination of conscience. Our dignity demands that we do everything to bring about our financial self-reliance. The first step in this direction is transparent management and a simple life-style which is in keeping with the poverty, indeed the misery of our people.

In no way should this search for financial self-reliance be confused with a closing in on ourselves. On the contrary we seize this occasion to thank the Pontifical Mission-Aid Societies, our sister Churches, the Religious Institutes, and other non-governmental organizations (NGO) which have helped us up to the present, and we invite them to continue to do so as an expression of their communion with us. We would cease being the genuine Church of Christ if we closed in on ourselves. The Church-as-Family is one of free and generous circulation of both goods and personnel.

 

The means of social communication

45. The Synod paid great attention to the mass media. Two important and complementary aspects surfaced: the mass media as a new and emerging cultural universe and as a series of means serving communication.

46. First of all, they constitute a new culture that has its own language and its own specific values and counter-values. For this reason, like any culture, the mass media needs to be evangelized. The Synod requests that all the agents of evangelization become familiar with the media and that those who work full time therein be sustained by their pastors who will be mindful of their necessary spiritual nourishment.

47. If this world of communications "is the first Areopagus of the modern age" apostles must be formed to witness there-in and to speak with competence of the Word of truth and of life who is the Communicator par excellence. The Church owes it to itself to foster creativity in this area: as long as we remain only consumers in this domain we ran the risk of changing our culture without wishing to and without even knowing that we are doing so.

48. The media are also, as their name indicates, means, traditional and modern, in the hands of communicators. That is why the Synod recommends that the Churches do everything for formation in the use of these means for proclamation. They should initiate the faithful and especially the young to have a critical judgment of what the media produces. It is recommended that the local Churches exploit judiciously the hours that are available to them on regional and national stations.

 

Formation

49. The programme of formation desired by the present Synod is one which is aimed at leading candidates resolutely along the road to sanctity. It envisages the formation of people who are truly human, well inserted in their milieu and who bear witness therein to the Kingdom which is to come. This is done by means of evangelization and inculturation, of dialogue and involvement in justice and peace, as well as by means of a presence in the new culture constituted by the world of the mass media.

50. It is necessary that the programme in houses of formation, especially in seminaries and novitiates, reflect the concern manifested by this Synod to see inculturation and the Social Teaching of the Church taken very seriously.

 

Formators in seminaries and novitiates

51. There is truly reason to thank God for the vocations increasing everywhere in Africa, priestly vocations as well as vocations to the consecrated life. We should respond to this grace with a real sense of responsibility, being concerned with the quality of our vocations discernment process, setting up criteria for admission and formation. We must make available to seminaries priests capable of carrying out effectively the formation programme. We urgently ask the Episcopal Conferences and our Brother Bishops who might have such formators available to put them generously at the service of this essential work.

52. To you, dear Brothers and Friends, who have the direct responsibility for the formation of future priests, the Synod expresses very deep gratitude. Your Bishops know that you are constantly at work so that the People of God will never lack servants who are truly men of God, knowing how to be, in all simplicity, "all things to all men" (1 Cor 9:22). Your mission is a very great one for the Church on the African continent. On the quality of your life and on your fidelity to your commitments depends the credibility of what you are teaching the seminarians and the success of the formation that you are giving them. If your intellectual competence is not put at the service of a holy life, you will be increasing in the Church the number of priest functionaries who will not give to the world the only reality that the world expects from them: God. You will be watchful about this. Do not forget the words of Paid VI, repeated by John Paul II: "people today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching and in life and action than in theories" (Redemptoris missio, n. 42, cf Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 41).

 

Schools, cultural and research centres, Institutes and universities

53. In a world that is constantly and rapidly evolving, they are the privileged centres where our societies must adapt to the international context, remaining open to the future thanks to the education and formation of the youth and thanks also to research. The great task, a difficult but exalting one, that the Synod entrusts to them is that of defining with rigour and transmitting effectively, our cultures in all that they have that is viable and transmissible, being careful always to find the possible meeting points with other cultures. What should characterize them in the times in which we live is the establishment of a system of collaboration with the resource persons in our own lands, the wise bearers and guarantors of our traditions.

54. If our countries expect such centres to become places in which the mastery of science and technology fosters further development, they likewise expect them to become, at the same time, privileged places for the remoulding of our traditional cultures confronted by modern rationality.

55. The Church in Africa on its part hopes that they will work for the sanctification of man's intelligence and that with her they will develop the rational criteria for a lasting inculturation.

 

African theologians

56. Your mission is a great and noble one in the service Of inculturation which is the important work site for the development of African theology. You have already begun to propose an African reading of the mystery of Christ. The concepts of Church-as-Family, Church-as-Brotherhood, are the fruits of your work in contact with the Christian experience of the People of God in Africa. The Synod knows that without the conscientious and devoted exercise of your function something essential would be lacking. The Synod expresses its gratitude and its encouragement to you to continue working with your distinctive role certainly, but in communion with your Pastors so that the doctrinal riches which will flow from this Assembly may be deepened for the benefit of our particular Churches and the universal Church.

 

The Lay faithful

57. The Church-as-Family is orientated towards the building of society which she seeks to inspire by the spirit of the Beatitudes. The task of the faithful lay person who through Baptism and Confirmation participates in the three great functions of Christ, Priest, Prophet and King, is to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, especially in those places where only a lay person is able to render the Church present. A certain idea of the Church produced a type of lay person who was too passive. The Church-as-Family is a Church of communion. All pastors are invited to develop a pastoral programme, in which the laity rediscover their proper place and importance.

As for you, dear sons and daughters, concentrate resolutely on the grace of your Baptism and Confirmation and utilize every initiative which the Holy Spirit will give you, so that our Church may rise to the challenge of her Mission.

 

Religious: priests, brothers and sisters

58. You have made a total gift of yourselves to reveal to Africa and to the world the beauty and grandeur of the life of the Church and its purpose. Religious life, contemplative or active, has a value in itself to manifest the holiness of the Church. You will succeed in inculturating religious life in Africa only by assuming, as it were, by representation and anticipation, the profound values that make up the life of our cultures and express the end pursued by our peoples. In this way you will give cultural hospitality to Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, who has come not to destroy but to fulfil. Your fidelity to your religious consecration and your communion with the local Church are for- everyone signs of the Kingdom.

 

Catechists

59. Yours is the duty to assure the daily organization of village communities and urban neighbourhoods, in order to make of them living fraternal groups, vital cells of the great ecclesial family. You are the primary collaborators of the priests in their ministry of evangelization. The Synod which has had the joy of participating in the Beatification of one from among you, (Isidore Bakanjo), hopes that you may receive and transmit a formation truly centred on Christ, making of you and of all who through you enter the Church authentic witnesses of the faith.

 

Seminarians and candidates for the consecrated life

60. The theme of the Synod: "You will be my witnesses... towards the Year 2000" concerns you very specially. The Church counts on you to make your own and live in depth the riches of this Synod. Enter generously into the ideal which is proposed to you. Be convinced that spiritual formation is the key to the whole of your formation.

61. An intense prayer life and a generous spiritual combat will enable you to properly discern your vocation and to grow as witnesses who know in whom they "have put their trust" (2 Tm 1:12). Evangelization and inculturation, whose internal link is witness, should be the beacons that enlighten the coming century which will be yours. Seminary discipline should become self-discipline and the expression of your maturity. Strive after the simple life-style of labourers; for the Gospel in solidarity with all the poor of our continent;, by your manual labour share in the concern of the local Church to support itself.

 

Young people

62. The Synod was deeply conscious of the youth of Africa and of the local Churches. It recognizes in Christ the primary source of this youth. The Synod also finds in your youth a source of dynamism and of renewal. Your great numerical strength is a sign of divine blessing on this Africa which loves life and freely communicates it to the future generations. Your desire for participation expresses a sense of responsibility which is for us a reason to give thanks.

63. The tasks of evangelization, inculturation, justice, peace and the means of social communication which received particular attention from the Synod cannot be achieved without your generous commitment. But how can this be done without dialogue with you? The call to live dialogue was also one of the fundamental preoccupations of the Synod. We desire to intensify it with you. You represent more than half of the population of the continent. You are a blessing for our peoples. The Synod desires that in every country a solution be found for your impatience to take part in the life of the nation and of the Church. For its part and as of now, the Synod asks you to take in hand the development of your countries, to love the culture of your people, and to work for its revitalization through fidelity to your cultural heritage, through a scientific and technical spirit; and above all, through the Christian faith.

64. The Synod of hope is not unaware that you, young people with diplomas but without work, -are faced with a difficult situation. It prays for you and asks your Churches and the leaders of your countries to invent new models of development able to integrate the enormous potential that you represent, a potential impossible to utilize in the current materialistic and economy-oriented model of society. It sympathizes with all the young Africans scattered all over the countries of the Northern Hemisphere for the purpose of studies and who, because of unemployment, cannot return to put their competence at the service of their country.

 

Women

65. We render homage to you our mothers, our sisters!

This Synod of hope reflected on the alienations that weigh upon you They come from a traditional vision of man and of the world and in this manner they manifest clearly one of the major forms of the structure of sin engulfing our African societies. They also come from the unjust structures of the present world.

66. The Synod requests that woman be given quality formation to prepare her for her responsibilities as wife and mother, but also to open for her all the social careers from which traditional and modern society tend to exclude her without reason. The Synod asks that woman be given once again that place which corresponds to the real importance conferred upon her by the responsibilities she already exercises.

67. Convinced that "to educate a woman is to educate a people", your Bishops and all those who participated in this holy Synod are determined to take every measure to see your dignity fully respected. During this Synod, the Holy Father beatified two mothers of families, Elizabeth Canori Mora and Gianna Beretta Molla. We join in this homage that the Holy Father addressed to you on that occasion: "we desire to render homage to all courageous mothers who consecrate themselves without reserve to their families, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready after that to endure every fatigue and to face every sacrifice in order to transmit to their children the best that is in them (...). How extraordinary at times is their sharing in the solicitude of the Good Shepherd!" (Homily of the Holy Father for the Beatification of Isidore Bakanja, Elisabetta Canori Mora and Gianna Beretta Molla, 25 April 1994).

68. We greet with deference all consecrated women of Africa and Madagascar and of the whole world. We encourage them to persevere in their holy vocation and to assume joyfully the grace of spiritual motherhood that Christ offers to them in the Church. We are convinced that the quality of our Church-as-Family also -depends on the quality of our women-folk, be they married or members of institutes of the consecrated life.

69. As participants in the bringing about of full human development, you will be a source of hope for our continent in this hour of crisis, if you know how to imitate Mary, the new Eve, the Mother of Christ, the Redeemer of mankind.

 

Thanksgiving

70. In thanksgiving for the faith that we have received, and inspired by great joy, we turn toward the year 2000 which is approaching. We are filled with hope and determination to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with every man and woman. That is our prayer and we invite the whole Family of God to pray with us and with Mary, the figure of the Church, for a new Pentecost.

71. 0 Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church,
thanks to you, at the dawn of the Annunciation,
the whole human race with its Cultures
rejoiced in knowing itself capable of the Gospel.
On this eve of a new Pentecost for the Church
of Africa, Madagascar and the Islands, together
with the people entrusted to us, in communion
with the Holy Father, we unite ourselves to You,
so that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit may make
our cultures places of communion in diversity,
and may make of us the Church-Family of the
Father, the Brotherhood of the Son, the image of
the Trinity, anticipating the Reign of God and working
with all for a Society that has God as its Builder,
a society of Justice and of Peace.
Amen!

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