2009-10-17 11:46:07

Nigerian archbishop says synod includes 'self-examination'

(October 17, 2009) In their wide-ranging discussion of political, social, economic and environmental issues, members of the Synod of Bishops for Africa kept asking themselves, "What can we do?" a Nigerian archbishop said. Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja told reporters October 16 that the question led participants to do "a lot of self-examination" about the life of the church, its outreach to political leaders and other faith communities, and how to find more effective ways to end the injustices afflicting the continent. In particular, questions about environmental destruction and economic exploitation by multinational companies extracting Africa's natural resources were repeatedly raised at the synod, he said. "There are certain things which should just not be done," the archbishop said. The African bishops still are concerned that foreign companies are not paying a fair price for what they remove from the continent and they also object to the fact that the companies feel free to ignore the environmental safeguards they follow on other continents when they are mining or drilling in Africa. "Some of these multinationals operate with double standards," he said. "I can't see BP, Shell or Mobil doing what they are doing in the Niger Delta in the North Sea or in Texas." In Nigeria, where Christian-Muslim tensions once were common, he said Catholic and Muslim leaders have worked together to condemn violence in the name of religion, to promote free elections, to end discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS and to strengthen a U.N. program to combat malaria.

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