Submission by the following Fathers:
- Bishop Anselme
Titianma SANON (Burkina Faso)
- Bishop Armando Umberto GIANNI (Republic of Central Africa)
- Father Marcel MATUNGULU OTENE (Provincial Jesuit, Zaire)
- Father Peter-Hans KOLVENBACH (Superior General Jesuit)
- Cardinal William Wakefield BAUM (Holy See)
- Archbishop Paul VERDZEKOV (Cameroon)
- Bishop Antoine MAANICUS (Republic of Central Africa)
- Cardinal Pio LAGHI (Holy See)
- Bishop Joseph LAFONTANT (Haiti)
Bishop Anselme Titianma SANON (Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso):
The present intervention in my own name joins the voices which spoke about the condition o woman and African religious woman in the Kairos of the present Synod on the Evangelisation of Africa.
If one discusses woman and the African religious woman, it is with this priority given to evangelisation. Joined to man since creation, woman is a companion in the work of salvation, above all in the urgent works of the announcement of the Good News to African humanity.
The specific presence of the African
woman and religious woman in the Church, in the best of cases is a real
dynamic, responsible and often discrete presence.
The spiritual and religious values of our cultures, their moral energies are due most of the time to family, and family owes this to woman, spouse and mother who gives and conserves life. Her roles and tasks are disparate and often heavy to bear. She bears them in pain and suffering, in valiance and joy, as she symbolically bears baskets on her head.
Many evolutions and purification are in course here and we must accelerate them for the new promotion of the African woman.
This is evermore important where evangelisation has had profound and exalting echoes in the hearts of Christian women. They discover or deepen the sense of their dignity of sister, spouse, man's companion. Celibate woman, consecrated woman, notably the African religious woman, is recognised in a new way through the light of the Gospel.
All Christian women are invited to take their place and to fill their roles in the Church-family achieving the plenitude of her donation as spouse and mother, teacher and apostle of the Good News, gift of the Lord to the Church in Africa.
This is how we see the teachers, the nurses, the catechist mothers, the consecrated widows. May the Synod be the kairos for the new regard and the search for new ways!
Bishop Armando Umberto GIANNI (Bouar, Central African Republic):
If there have been suffering, obstacles, sins which have slowed the way of evangelisation, there has also been a lot of generosity and grace which have fertilised this work.
Today we can denounce our suffering and worries. In the past, there were periods when the Church, in hidin and in silence, continued to be the place of liberty and dialogue.
On the African continent many Churches are very young and have had immense growth..
Don't obstacles arise in this amazing growth? Have we allowed enough time for our Christian communities to deeply assimilate the Christian message? From this spiritual growth, the strength to overcome obstacles will come.
Our Church in Central Africa celebrates,
this year, its first century of being even if the majority of its cChristiancommunities
are less than 50 years old.
During the Assises of 1993, our Christians with sincerity and clarity discussed the following themes:
- the life and witness of the priests
and consecrated people.
- the situation of marriage and the family.
- formation and mission of the laity.
Within the laity there is a great deal of request for formation.
The facts which have determined the passage to greater democracy and liberty in the country found the Church deeply involved in this.
From now, the sufferings which afflict other countries are not present within our country, which has a certain serenity and peace.
But, behind many slogans and political
parties, there is only a vacuum.
Great involvement is expected of us for the social animation to impregnate our Christian communities with the Social Doctrine of the Church.
I hope that Regional reunions of the Episcopate may become evermore places for true communion; the Christian people watch us with friendship looking at us as the sign of a communion which goes beyond the borders.
Original text: Italian
Father Marcel MATUNGULU OTENE (Provincial of Jesuits, Zaire):
During these sittings, some of our Synodal Fathers, in their reports, have placed praising accent upon the work of the missionaries who founded our Churches yesterday and continue today, in collaboration with the autochtonous, to give witness of the Gospel. This praise is worthy in the African sense of gratefulness.
Only, this may make one forget the real tensions between our Bishops and the missionaries in their apostolic ministry. These tensions often seem scandalous, especially when we see that they are caused by jealously, battles over spheres of influence, bad management by some of our pastors, etc.
of view and method should not soil the evangelical message.
The missionary congregations embrace with joy the time of the inheritors whose multiplication of the autochtonous congregations is one of the visible signs, even if the particular charisma of each new foundation does not always appear clearly.
Have not certain autochtonous congregations been founded for the substitution of congregations of our sister Churches present among us?
It is also true that certain comportments of the missionaries are at the base of this reaction.
Therefore, I would like to invite those responsible in our Churches to better collaboration with the religious, especially the congregations of Pontifical law.
Father Peter-hans KOLVENBACH (Superior General of the Jesuits):
Instrumentum Laboris (118) and Relatio ante Disceptationem (26) underline the shame and pain which provokes the impressive numbers of refugees: 6,000,000, and even with people who have moved place inside their own Country numbering about 17,500,000 being over 50% of the world total of refugees for a continent that represents only 9% of the world population.
the philanthropic initiatives, Christians must recall that refugees touch
God's heart. Soon after He was born, the Son of God already had to tackle
violence which forced his family to escape abroad. Already the Olf Testament,
which however rarely exhorted another love outside the one of God and His
commandments, mentioned this preferential love for immigrants (Dt. 10,19).
Like pardon for enemies, love for refugees becomes a criterion of authenticity
of the faith.
If they are rarely driven back, on the contrary refugees are often neglected and ignored, and the ones who would like to welcom them are themselves in economic trouble. However even if the material means are scarce, the arrival of refugees in a diocese may become a time of grace simply due to testimony of Christian charity by compassion and, as the widow in the Gospel, by sharing "put in more than all of them" (Luk. 21,4).
The ecclesial or religious bodies help the local Churches. But according to a recent report of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, one deplores the lack of co-ordination and clarification of priorities at Episcopal Conference level, collaboration among organisations of the Church in Africa - sometimes even a lack of courage to denounce intolerable situations in the name of the Gospel.
However, intensifying aid to refugees must not dispense us from fighting against this form of sin which is violence, the major cause of scandal regarding refugees. It would be wrong to think that only political leaders are concerned by violence of war and massacre, trade in weapons and the struggle for power. Violence concerns us all in our conception of human dignity, in our current way of speaking which must exclude intolerance and discrimination. We must all ask ourselves about our contribution, which is often unconscious, to this violence that sends away millions of refugees from their homes and homeland. However, solidarity whose witness is the fact of taking care of these poor refugees makes it possible to hope that African and the world will one day be able to live together in peace.
Original text: French
Cardinal William Wakefield BAUM (Grand Penitentiary, Vatican City):
An analyses of evangelisation should include a realistic acknowledgement of the mystery of evil, the presence of the Evil one, and of the fact of personal sin as an obstacle to evangelisation.
Permit me to suggest that the concept of personal conversion from sin requires greater development in our reflections and the need of personal repentance as an indispensable condition for that liberation from sin and the evil one (cf. in n.8), which is found only in Christ Jesus.
The need for
repentance and for the sacrament of penance/reconciliation in the eyes
of the faithful should also be more emphasized in our deliberations.
I would propose to our assembly that numbers 8, 11, and 12 could be amplified to include a fuller treatment of these elements, elements which are essential to a definition, description and understanding of the purpose of evangelisation.
In our analyses and discussions we have tended for very good reasons to stress the importance of structures, of the social, political cultural aspects of our institutions. But we may ask: how can a culture be evangelised or how can the Gospel be inculturated apart from personal conversion, apart from the change of minds and hearts of persons?
Original text: English
Archbishop Paul VERDZEKOV (Bamenda, Cameroon):
1. I wish to speak to two issues raised in the Instrumentum Laboris with reference to Families. The first concerns the family, the domestic Church, considered as an agent of evangelisation (Instrumentum Laboris, n. 38). The second deals with Marriage and Family Life considered in the context of inculturation (n. 68).
2. Our Working Document opportunely recalls the teaching of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi according to which "the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which it radiates. In a family conscious of this mission, all members evangelise and are evangelised. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangeliser of many other families and of the neighbourhood of which it forms part" (EN 71). During the years when certain so-called Marxist-Leninist regimes persecuted the Church in Africa, obstructing organised catechesis, proscribing Catholic Movements and Associations, and expropriating Catholic Schools, the Christian Families were practically the only effective agents for handing on the faith. Many hope that this Synodal Assembly will emphasise the need to so thoroughly evangelise African families that they may fully play their role as agents of evangelisation.
3. With regard to Marriage and Family Life considered within the context of inculturation,, the Instrumentum Laboris (n. 68) draws attention to "a great number of Catholics excluded from the Sacraments, the source of unity and strength, by reason of their irregular marital situation…"
The approach of the Instrumentum Laboris on the inculturation of African Marriage and Family is to be welcomed, mindful of the fact that "the power of the Gospel everywhere transforms and regenerates. When the power enters into a culture, it is no surprise that it rectifies many of it elements. There would be no catechesis (or evangelisation)it is were the Gospel that had to change when it came into contact with the cultures. To forget this would simply amount to what Saint Paul calls emptying the Cross of Christ of its power" (Catechesi Tradendae, n. 53).
It seems to me that "a true response to practical problems" mentioned in the Instrumentum Laboris n. 68 "will not be found in changes that subvert the central core of sacramental doctrine and of matrimonial doctrine, but only with a radical renewal of baptismal spirituality".
4. It seems absolutely necessary that this Synodal Assembly should consider the defence and promotion of the Rights of the Family as an essential and indispensable part of the Church's commitment to the promotion of Justice and Peace in Africa. It would be very helpful of all our Particular Churches diffused, as widely as possible, the Charter of the Rights of the Family published by the Holy See n 1983. Furthermore, and in view of the forthcoming Population Conference due to be held in Cairo in September 1994, it would be very helpful if the Synodal Assembly were to follow up the lead given by Pope John Paul II on family issues in his recent Address to Mrs. Nafis Sadik, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and Secretary General of the above-named Population Conference.
Original text: French
Bishop Antoine MAANICUS (Bangassou, Central African Republic):
For the missionary Church, education through the school has always been a priority; in many African countries the Gospel has entered through the doors of the school, it being only natural that who transmitted a "written Gospel" should teach the neophytes the way to read it.
Everywhere, the missionaries have been involved in, together with the preaching of the Gospel, the work of human promotion, cnetred on education given in the school rooms, during the battle against illiteracy, and in the translation of the texts of the Holy Scriptures and prayers in the various local dialects.
The process of de-colonisation and the constitution of independent States have created a new and not to be disregarded series of problems for the Catholic schools. It is known that in various countries in Africa, our schools, since the 50's and 60's, were nationalised, and in the counteis where they continued to exist, they encountered many difficulties, especially financial which still today weigh upon them.
It is a duty to recognise that the African Bishops have understood the importance of Catholic schools for evangelisation and human promotion. "Amon all the means of education and human development", they stated at the end of the works of the VII Assembly in Kinchasa in July 1984, "the school occupies a primary role. It is, because of its selfsame mission, a privileged place of personalisation and socialisation; introducing in the cultural heritage of humanity, it promotes the sense of values efficiently prepares for the social and professional life".
the Instrumentum Laboris in n.37 gives particular attention to the Catholic
schools, defining them as "important places for bringing youth up as committed
Christians." In the same number, it is recommended that "Catholic education
policy take better into consideration the different cultural, social, political
and economic elements in the life of people". In n.122 it suggests that
professional schools should be better evaluated, so that the young are
given the necessary tools to be self-sufficient.
Finally, I would like to repeat the appeal made in Santo Domingo to the Religious who have abandoned the Catholic school, "to go back to their educational duty". Reminding them that the "preferential option for the poor includes a preferential option for those means which allow persons to exit from their poverty: Catholic schools are privileged means among these."
Original text: Italian
Bishop Joseph LAFONTANT (Apostolic Administrator "sede plena", Port-au-Prince, Haiti):
The African heritage has had a certain influence on the society, the culture and religion. The ancestors of the Haitians came from distant Africa, brought as slaves by the French colonialists to replace the Indians which populated the island at the time of arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. The Indian population was decimated by the massacres and the hard labour imposed by the Spanish colonialists.
The Africans brought with them the memory of their native land, and to sustain their hope of returning one day they would invoke, hiddenly, the gods of their ancestral religions.
Voodoo is the survival of these religions. Two grand traditions are still alive in Haiti, in two important locations. In 1803, a grand ceremony called "Bois Caiman" marked the beginning of the revolt of the slaves and ended with independence on January 1, 1804.
Spanish religious persons began this, for the Indians. The French colonialists brought their priests to a crisis with authorities for the Christianisation of the blacks. In 1860, the Breton missionaries came, called for by the first Archbishop named by the Holy See.
This first well-made evangelisation did not eliminate ancestral beliefs. Till now, the Haitians in referring to Voodoo speak about cultural roots and the return to the origins. This brought to the introduction of Voodoo into the constitution as one of the official religions. It is above all in a relatively new form of musical expression, that the will to create ties with Africa is manifested, on the popular. The intellectuals, of which many emigrated to Africa, preferred looking towards the United States or Europe.
The Catholics are still a majority despite the influence and the increase of the numerous sects. Inculturation has been present in the liturgy for a long time through the introduction of drums, of rhythmic chants and dancing during the ceremonies.
The country is ailing. The Church is undergoing strong internal tensions which make dialogue difficult. However, she still evangelises and assures her presence in the important domains. The population trusts her. She accepts helps but calls for the respect of her options.
Original text: French
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