(Bishop of Gweru, Zimbabwe)
1. Proclaiming the Good News of Salvation
Evangelisation is the basic priority. It is integral, bringing salvation and liberation, both physical and spiritual. It includes human promotion and the transformation of cultures from within. It begins with conversion. It must result in commitment to the Church community. It calls for a deeper formation of our Christians. Ultimately only evangelisation can solve the deep social and moral problems of Africa.
Evangelisation must address the social decay in Africa: poverty among the many and greed and craving for social positions among the elite, the growth of a social underclass, the erosion of family life, exacerbated by western influences harmful to our culture. Though priests are the leaders, the chief means of evangelisation lies in marriage and family life.
The faith needs to be imparted by the family, especially by mothers. Their formation is all the more necessary since the traditional family is under threat. Polygamy remains an obstacle to the transmission of faith. While many stress the inadequacy of western canonical norms being the cause of so many Catholics being unable to receive the sacraments, we regard the lack of commitment as the main cause of this deplorable state. The Church has to re-educate the people about Christian marriage and family life without which there cannot be any true evangelisation of non-Christians.
Next to the family, the Small Christians' Community is the place where evangelisation takes place. They must become not just praying communities, but also caring and preaching communities. All agents of evangelisation ? priests, religious, teachers, laity and the family - and their proper formation are another one of our priorities. The formation of the agents of evangelisation is as important as the content of evangelisation. We must improve the formation of our priests, in the seminary and in on-going formation. The connection between seminary formation and pastoral practice is often tenuous. Agreed pastoral methods should be taught intensively in seminaries.
All this can happen only within our cultures so that Christians stop leading double lives, one foot in African tradition, another one in the Church. Inculturation should have a sound theological and ethnological basis, beyond mere folklore. Marriage and family life are clearly an area of concern in this respect. We must look at African culture as it is today, an amalgam of tradition and modernity. The rapidly changing role of women shows that African society is not static, but dynamic and full of contradiction. A truly incultured faith will answer the need of our people for healing which they seek so often with traditional healers.