26 August, 1990: ANGELUS MESSAGE

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Next Saturday I shall begin my seventh trip to Africa, where I shall visit Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. In Côte d'Ivoire, at Yamoussoukro, I shall later have the opportunity to participate in a meeting of the Council of the General Secretariat of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Peter's Successor is happy to take part in this meeting of brother Bishops, the Successors of the Apostles in the land of Africa. From the very first announcement of the special Synod on 6 January 1989, I have personally followed the developments of the preparatory work with great interest and deep affection for the African continent. From the many meetings I have had with African Bishops in the meantime, I have been able to see the joy and enthusiasm with which people are preparing for that important Church event throughout the continent.

As has been noted, the theme of the Synod, developed by the African Bishops themselves is as follows: "The Church in Africa and her evangelising mission towards the year 2000". From the very first announcement of the special Synod on 6 January 1989, I have personally followed the developments of the preparatory work with great interest and deep affection for the African continent. From the many meetings I have had with African Bishops in the meantime, I have been able to see the joy and enthusiasm with which people are preparing for that important Church event throughout the continent.

As has been noted, the theme of the Synod, developed by the African Bishops themselves is as follows: "The Church in Africa and her evangelising mission towards the year 2000. "You shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1,8)".

In order to facilitate the Synod's work, a special preparatory document, the Lineamenta, was officially distributed during a special meeting of the Bishops at Lome, in Africa, on 24 July. Its aim is to stimulate the reflection of all the particular Churches in Africa: of Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, Catechists, the lay men and women involved in pastoral councils and movements, the local communities. Through their respective Bishops these people will all entrust the fruit of their meditation and reflection to the Bishops' Conference, and finally to the General Secretariat.

2. The document contains five major themes: 1) the proclamation of the Good News of salvation; 2) inculturation; 3) dialogue in all its dimensions: in general, ecumenical, interreligious and dialogue with non-believers; 4) justice and peace: the Christian's role in human promotion; 5) means of social communications (cf. English edition of 30 July).

On the eve of the third millennium of the redemption, this journey towards the Synod is such as to arouse a great hope not only for Africa, but for the whole Church and all the world. We should expect a new awakening, one with more conviction, of evangelisation and the missionary spirit. The way of being a Christian in the Church of that continent is taking a better and clearer shape, a way which is proper to the cultural context: the Church is taking on that "African face" which, for Africa, is the reflection of the face of Christ himself. We should also expect that new spiritual riches, new impulse of holiness and Church renewal, will come to light as its valuable and original contribution, not only for the good of Africa, but of the universal Church herself.

3. I ask your prayers, dear brothers and sisters, for the successful outcome of this important Synod which, the first of its kind for Africa, bears witness to the growing vitality of Christianity in that continent. May all those involved in the Synod in any way at all have ears to "hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church", according to the words of the Book of Revelation (2,7); may they understand more and more the Lord's plan for the particular Churches of Africa, what is their mission and responsibility in the concerted action of the Churches of the whole world.

May the Virgin Mary, to whom devotion is growing greatly in Africa with promising results in the area of justice, healthcare and peace, obtain for the Bishops of Africa an abundance of discernment and magnanimity in order to give the African Church a new generous impulse on the ways of the Lord".