(Bishop of Bata, Equatorial Guinea)
In the name and as representative of the Episcopal Conference of Equatorial Guinea, and of all its faithful, I first of all wish to express our fidelity and membership to the Holy See, in the person of His Holiness John Paul II, who summoned and presides over this historical event of salvation, which, contemplated with faith and hope, will allow us to find the manifestation of the will of God in our African continent in its peoples and Churches.
We feel very close to all of you in the preoccupation for the cause of evangelisation in Africa, in the affective and effective collegiality which is expressed more strongly, in the communion of faith and mission, in this special Assembly. Above all, with our brothers and sisters of Africa, with whom we go ahead in this unique task and privileged mission of being animators of men and women in Africa at the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The African Synod offers us the opportunity to review action carried out in the past of evangelisation in Africa and courageously tackle and define in depth and clearly those priorities and basic objectives in view of an effective proclamation of the evangelic message: with a renewed approach and according to the needs of the present time.
Africa is searching for its own identity, darkened by those strong and merciless years of colonisation, and also neo-colonialism. Today, more than yesterday, and as never before, the African Church feels the need to integrated its faith and its traditional culture in the same movement of dual fidelity: fidelity to those traditional values, and also to the evangelic message.
In this context, the task of inculturation is imposed on its own. And it is imposed for its own people and people from outside Africa as an effort for conversion, change in mentality and assimilation of a reality, which permits, more and more, greater opening to the extent of facilitating expressed recognition of those values and spiritual appeal, both material and human of the local African reality.
The Equatorial-Guinean Church, who has suffered, in her own flesh and blood for over a decade, a cruel and merciless religious persecution, closely feels the problems, anxieties and objectives of this Synod which has called us to reflect and have a dialogue on the proposed theme "The Church in Africa and her evangelisation mission towards the year 2000: You shall be my witnesses". Consequently, she also shares the necessity and the needs for a new sense and spirit of evangelisation, strikingly multi-sided and multi-dimensional with a renewed methodology and evangelising approaches; new thrusts and animation in her pastoral agents.
We hope for an evangelisation capable of reaching the core of the soul of our people; that impregnates all the aspects of their life and their being, in the firm certitude that we Africans can find a valid answer to the various questions and challenges which we carry along in the religious-ecclesiastic, moral-cultural, socio-political, economic aspects, in the freedoms, basic rights, etc.
Our local Church of Equatorial Guinea holds her expectations and hopes in this Synod. Expectations and hope of finding in the context of this evident African solidarity, communion and collegiality, the light of the Spirit that will help us to be faithful witnesses and transmitters of the Gospel of Christ in our people and cultures, thus reaching an equilibrium needed for their salvation, praising and blessing the Lord with their own characteristic dances and mentality, in full accordance and communion with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.