Highlights Need for Reconciliation Among Peoples
YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Africa has a particular vocation to know Christ, and that's something all Africans should be proud of, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today upon meeting with the Special Council of the Synod for Africa at the apostolic nunciature of Yaoundé. The meeting took place to mark the publication of the "instrumentum laboris" (working document) of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
The synod will be held Oct. 4-25 in the Vatican on the theme "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: You Are the Salt of the Earth; You Are the Light of the World."
"Your continent has been blessed by our Lord Jesus himself," the Pontiff began. "At the dawn of his earthly life, sad circumstances led him to set foot on African soil. God chose your continent to become the dwelling-place of his Son.
"In Jesus, God drew near to all men and women, of course, but also, in a particular way, to the men and women of Africa. Africa is where the Son of God was weaned, where he was offered effective sanctuary."
Noting the continent's long history of Christianity, the Holy Father recalled that "God himself brought salt and light to Africa. From that time on, the seed of his presence was buried deep within the hearts of this dear continent, and it has blossomed gradually, beyond and within the vicissitudes of its human history.
"As a result of the coming of Christ who blessed it with his physical presence, Africa has received a particular vocation to know Christ. Let Africans be proud of this!"
In reflecting on the events since the Second Vatican Council, which coincided with the emergence of new democracies on the continent, Benedict XVI noted the progress of the Church in Africa, which "accompanied the building of new national identities and, at the same time, sought to translate the identity of Christ along its own ways."
"As the hierarchy became increasingly African following Pope Pius XII’s ordination of Bishops from your continent, theological reflection began to ferment quickly," the Pope continued. "It would be well for your theologians today to continue to probe the depth of the Trinitarian mystery and its meaning for everyday African life.
"This century will perhaps permit, by God’s grace, the rebirth, on your continent, albeit certainly under a different and new form, of the prestigious School of Alexandria. Why could we not hope that Africans today and the universal Church might thereby be furnished with great theologians and spiritual masters capable of contributing to the sanctification of those who dwell in this continent and throughout the Church?"
Turning toward the themes to be addressed by the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, Benedict XVI spoke of the need for reconciliation "between peoples, ethnic groups and individuals" on the continent.
"Your continent," he said, "has been and continues to be a theatre of grave tragedies which cry out for true reconciliation between peoples, ethnic groups and individuals."
For Christians, the Pope said, "reconciliation is rooted in the merciful love of God the Father, and it is accomplished through the person of Christ Jesus who, in the Holy Spirit, has offered the grace of reconciliation to all. Its consequences will be shown, then, in the justice and peace which are indispensable for building a better world."
"If it is true," he added, "that in Jesus Christ we belong to the same family and share the same life -- since in our veins there flows the Blood of Christ himself, who has made us children of God, members of God’s Family -- there must no longer be hatred, injustice and internecine war."
Benedict XVI also spoke of the need of fostering a deeper eucharistic life and a "profound listening to the word of God and meditative reading of sacred Scripture."
"The word of life and the Bread of life offer light and nourishment as medicine and food for our journey in fidelity to the Teacher and Shepherd of our souls, so that the Church in Africa can carry out the service of reconciliation, justice and peace," the Pope explained.
"If they are truly to be this, the faithful must undergo conversion and follow Jesus Christ; they must become his disciples in order to be witnesses of his saving power," he added.
"No ethnic or cultural difference, no difference of race, sex or religion must become a cause for dispute among you," the Holy Father concluded. "You are all children of the one God, our Father, who is in heaven. With this conviction, it will then be possible to build a more just and peaceful Africa, an Africa worthy of the legitimate expectations of all its children."