2009-10-19 17:15:51

Synod Fathers: Working Groups Point to Women's Issues

(October 19, 2009) Africa and the Church on that continent face so many challenges that the hours are passing too quickly for the participants at the synod under way in Rome. This observation was made when the initial results of the first working group discussions were presented to the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The working groups continued their efforts Thursday afternoon and Friday and Saturday morning. As the synod participants now begin the last week of the discussions and presentations, one theme that promises to be emphasized in the final documents is the dignity of women. Women were mentioned repeatedly in the presentations of the working groups. The working group presented by Coadjutor Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, Angola, pointed out that the role of women in the field of reconciliation from its proper feminine characteristic. "Women have to be given roles in the Church as full members. Renewed efforts have to be made to eliminate discrimination against women in all areas," affirmed the group presented by Archbishop Anthony Valentine Obinna of Owerri, Nigeria. This was affirmed by the group presented by Archbishop Philippe Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, who said "Man created in the image of God must be respected above all in his fundamental rights, in particular that of women, who in Africa are the first victims of injustice.” One group recognized cultural traditions that continue to pose obstacles to the promotion of women. "There is a problem with the hierarchical structure in African society as a result of which superiors cannot ask pardon of inferiors," Bishop Sithembele Anton Sipuka of Umtata, South Africa. The group of Monsignor Obiora Francis Ike of Nigeria called for creating "commissions in each diocese in Africa to promote the dignity and role of women in the Church and in society."

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