2009-10-07 15:47:16

Five Continents express solidarity with Africa

Zenit: : Representatives from five continents addressed the Synod of Bishops for Africa, underlining points of unity with the people of that land and proposing ways of intercontinental collaboration. The five reports were presented on Monday at the second general congregation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to Africa, which began Sunday in Rome and will end Oct. 25.
A representative from North America, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia, underlined the "one Faith that binds the Church in the United States to all of the other Churches throughout the world." He affirmed that the Catholic community on his continent "has benefitted directly during the past generation from a growing number of clergy and religious from the great African continent, who now serve Catholics throughout our nation generously and devotedly." “Our people,” said the archbishop, “are likewise deeply grateful for the opportunity to assist the local Churches in Africa."
The president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania, Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong, Australia, also expressed the desire to collaborate with Africa. He underlined the common fight against the "terrible scourge of HIV/AIDS," especially in Papua New Guinea. Recalling the recent earthquake and tsunami that claimed lives in Samoa and Tonga, the bishop stated, "In both Oceania and Africa, great work is being done by the Church and its agencies to help people recover and to manage risks that could arise from natural disasters." Bishop Ingham noted that "Australia has begun to re-engage with Africa, particularly in the mining industries," but he underlined the desire for these miners to be responsible to the communities where they will work.
The European representative, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, president of the council of bishops' conferences from Europe, acknowledged ways in which, Africa can teach other countries. In Central and Eastern Europe, similar to Africa, he said there is a need to "seek reconciliation of hearts, purification of memory, and constructive brotherhood." The prelate also expressed the desire to collaborate on Church issues, stating, "We wish to better study your liturgical and catechetical experiences, the dynamic of your priestly vocations, the opportunities to build together the Church of Christ in Europe, in Africa, and everywhere throughout the world."
Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparaceda, Brazil, president of the Latin American bishops' council (CELAM), echoed his continent's desire to work together with Africa. The prelate proposed offering seminarians the opportunity for priestly training "in some of the particular Churches in Latin America with greater resources," as an occasion to "learn other languages, which could be used to promote the exchange and the communion between the two continents with such a vast Catholic presence."
Also underlining the similarity between the Church in Africa and on his continent, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Philippines, general secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, described both Catholic communities as "young,”and both
continents as continents of the poor . The prelate underlined the realities that Africa and Asia share, including "the love of traditional family values that are truly human, the thousands of languages spoken, and the encounter between Christianity, Islam, and indigenous traditional religions." He expressed solidarity of his continent with Africa, as well as the desire to meet the common challenges faced by the Church in both places.

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