Bishop Guy ROMANO 
(Apostolic Administrator "Sede Vacante" of Niamey,
Niger)

 

I am speaking with reference to the Instrumentum Laboris nos. 75 to 80. Niger is over 80% a Muslim country. Christians total 20,000 - almost all from countries in Africa - and have often been so for a long time. There are some thousands of followers of Traditional Religions. Christians have always been free to live their faith without obstacles.

1. Some conditions for dialogue and meeting between Christians and Muslims.

A great deal of modesty and humility are required to live as a minority in a Muslim country. Every day we experience that we can only count on the power of the resurrected and living Christ and on the strength of the spirit. This does not mean weakness and even less complaisance.

2. Concrete ways of dialogue

First of all it is the humble service of the people in development and promotion of activities: schools, hospitals, teaching of literacy skills, rural development, promotion of women, vocational training. Muslims who benefit from these activities can better understand who is the God of Christians: a God of love, freedom, openness, pardon. However, one must respect their faith, have a high regard for it since it is an authentic way towards God.

Then one must find places and meeting opportunities between Christians and Muslims. Common work for development and human promotion. I think it is a privileged place.

The liturgies which reunite many Christians and Muslims on the occasion of inter-religious marriages and big feasts. Muslims tell us: "You are really luck to be able to pray in your mother tongue".

Young People's Movement: JEC (Jeunes Eleves Croyants - Young Student Believers), JOC (Jeunes Ouvriers Croyants - Young Workers Believers) and scouts who include both Christians and Muslims.

Certain important issues of society such as Promotion of Women. In Niger there is an association which is fighting for this promotion and in particular for adopting a more modern Family Code: Christians and Muslims are working side by side for this promotion.

3. Difficulties in dialogue and meeting between Christians and Muslims 

a) First of all, development of extremist movements, especially since the birth of democracy. Perhaps it would be necessary for the Synod to denounce violence and solemnly proclaim that one cannot kill in the name of God, and not even impose His law by force since He is only the God of life and freedom and not the God of death and oppression. People who kill in His name are only serving an idol.

b) Fast multiplication of new religious movements of Christian origin (sects) which are intolerant and do not want any dialogue. Muslims assimilate us with them. Christian division is a great counter-witness.

c) Bad witnesses of dishonest Christians, who are corrupt and are not serious in their life as a couple.

Lastly, I would like to launch an urgent appeal to my Brother Bishops, in favour of the Mission outside. Many initiatives have been taken in this field and I thank God for this.

Original text: French
 

 

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