2009-10-24 16:54:19

Synod Message Decries Corruption, Appeals for Cooperation in Africa

(October 24, 2009) The greed, corruption and unjust economic structures fomenting conflict and poverty in Africa must be overcome through the united cooperation of all people of good will, said the Synod of Bishops for Africa. In their final message to the world, the 275 members of the synod also said condoms will not alleviate the scourge of HIV and AIDS and insisted on respect for religious freedom in predominantly Muslim communities. Poverty, misery, war and chaos are most often caused by the decisions and actions of "people who have no regard for the common good" and who often take advantage of a tragic complicity and criminal conspiracy of local leaders and foreign interests, said the synod's message. A preliminary version was released Friday, October 23. The bishops praised those who have used their role in public office for the common good. But the bishops criticized the many Catholics in high office who have fallen woefully short in their performance in office and called on these leaders to repent or resign from political office. Africa needs "saintly politicians who will clean the continent of corruption, work for the good of the people and know how to galvanize other men and women of good will from outside the church to join hands against the common evils that beset our nations," said the message. The bishops called for "a new and just world order" in which poor nations are freed from the burden of debt. They called for a halt of criminal devastation of the environment. The church's valuable work in fighting HIV and AIDS and caring for those affected must continue to receive support, said the message. The synod said that it agreed with Pope Benedict XVI that condoms would not beat the pandemic. It called on people to recognize the success obtained by prevention programs advocating abstinence and fidelity within marriage. The synod's final message hailed interreligious dialogue and cooperation with Muslims, saying such efforts have proven successful and effective. While the synod praised the predominantly Islamic governments that allow Catholics the freedom to worship, it said that was not enough. "Freedom of religion includes also freedom to share one's faith, to propose, not impose it, to accept and welcome converts," said the message. It called on the church, together with all people of good will, to continue its efforts to tackle poverty and promote peace, justice and reconciliation on the continent.

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