2009-10-16 15:44:12

Synod hears reports of group discussions

(October 16, 2009) The people of the African continent must be the protagonists of their own destiny. This was the general call that emerged on Thursday from the ongoing Synod for Africa in the Vatican. The 2nd Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, taking place in the Vatican from Oct 4-25, is discussing the themes of reconciliation, justice and peace in the continent. Thursday’s session began in the presence of the Pope Benedict XVI, with the assembly hearing the reports of group discussions that broadly outlined issues that are likely to feature in the synod’s final document. The synod fathers call to Africans to take their destiny in their hands and be the protagonists of their destiny included some specific issues such as the need to protect the environment, care of vocations with greater discernment, using the African traditions as an instrument of reconciliation etc. Hence they suggested that the teaching of the Church be widely known, especially with regard to sexuality, calling for a greater pastoral care of workers, the family and women, including the religious. Attention was also drawn to relations with Islam and to witchcraft which, they said, greatly harms the African society. The synod fathers also drew attention to the phenomenon of migration in the light of international politics and the Church’s role in protecting the rights of the person. Participants acknowledged the importance of mass media not only in communicating within the Church but also in imbuing the people with healthy family values. The synod fathers were of one mind that in the great challenge of de-politicizing the processes of reconciliation in the African continent, the Church must never be a hostage to institutional conflicts and that it must help leaders keep clear off corruption in the exercise of power. At the end the synod fathers suggested the institution of a continent-wide Eucharistic congress, a pan-African congress on women and an inter-religious prayer forum, acknowledging that prayer is the first step towards peace in a country plagues by conflict.

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