(Minister General, Order of Franciscan Minor)
From its first apparitions (in Africa!), religious life presents itself as a sign of radicality of the Gospel, as incarnation of the Love of Christ. Religious life does not define itself as the expression of pastoral or charitable action of the Church. It is rather the visible sign of what it means to be Church-at-the-service of the world. Religious life, in itself, must be conceived primarily as a "mission", as a manifestation of saving love.
May one be permitted to draw the attention on the peril of an incorrect reading of religious life, a danger which perhaps is not absent in the reality of certain local Churches which, faced with religious life, only see its useful aspect, sometimes clerical, omitting the fundamental charisma of each Institute, and above all the particular value of all its lay members - sisters and brothers - within the Institute. I wish to underline in a special way the encouraging and dynamic role of the contemplative feminine communities in Africa (Clarisse and others).
In a special way, the contribution of the Orders and other international institutions for the evangelisation of the African continent will consist in:
1) bringing their assistance in view of the praxis of the concept of unity, catholicity, internationality of our Church a very evangelical concept in a world stigmatised by nationalisms and tribalisms on all continents;
2) putting into practice the CIC Can. 588,1: "The state of consecrated life, by its nature, is neither clerical nor lay", and thus give value to the fundamental equality of all the consecrated, men and women, clergy and lay members, as to their fundamental task, evangelisation;
3) contributing to reconciliation between the different cultures and ethnic groups, even within the Church;
4) bringing their contribution to "Justice, Peace and the Protection of Creation" as expressions of incarnate spirituality in the reality of the continent.
A true inculturation of the religious life in Africa, experienced without traumas or residues of a surpassed clericalism, would be of great value for the entirety of our Church, in Africa and elsewhere.