Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar



12th Plenary Assembly


Rome, 1 - 8 October 2000






His Eminence Cardinal Jan P. Schotte, C.I.C.M.

Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops









            The countless fruits of the Synodal proceedings of the first Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops were amply gathered in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, published by the Holy Father just five years ago at Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 14 September 1995, Feast of the Holy Cross.


            At that time, for many of the Synod Fathers, the biblical icon which best expressed the condition of the African continent was without any doubt that of the man who was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers who stripped him of all he had, beat him and then departed, leaving him half dead (cf. Lk 10:30-37). Struck by the aptness of this image, the Holy Father made it his own and developed it by adding a touch of hope, entrusting the Church with the role of a Good Samaritan beside the African, weakened and exhausted in his ability to react[1] He concluded that the sons and daughters of Africa need an understanding presence and pastoral concern. They need to be helped to recoup their energies so as to put them at the service of the common good.[2]


            The Post-Synodal Council elected by the Synod Fathers at the end of the final phase of the Special Assembly for Africa proceeded to encourage and several times exhorted the Bishops of Africa to implement the Synod’s conclusions. Meeting regularly, the Council members were well placed to appreciate the achievements, projects and progress of the local Churches in Africa, all the more praiseworthy given the tragically unfavourable political, economic and social situations.


            It is this post-Synodal period (1995-2000) that we propose briefly to review in this intervention. Such a review cannot be exhaustive, of course, but will consist of juxtaposing touches of colour so as to render, in the manner of the impressionist masters, an idea of the general situation in Africa as regards both civil society and the local Churches.



I. Africa has Changed


            It is undeniable that from the year 1994 to the year 2000, Africa has changed. The question is whether this change has improved or worsened the general situation on the continent. International organizations and NGOs all produce reports and predictions for Africa at an ever-increasing rate: UN, FAO, WHO, IMF, Amnesty International, etc. all brandish figures, estimates and evaluations. This avalanche of fragmented information makes the task of extracting an overall view arduous indeed. However, given what is at stake, we take that risk.


1. Politically


            Thirty years after de-colonization and the restoration of Africa’s political independence, it nonetheless remains an endangered continent. Indeed, many government structures inherited from previous rulers are proving with time inappropriate for the social realities of Africa and survive like a parasitic fungus on a tree trunk.


            Without prejudice as to which type of political regime should be preferred, it is generally recognized that two functions are essential to good government: to guarantee the state of rights, or law and order, and power to the common good. Now, whatever political regimes were adopted by African countries in the post-colonial period in which a large part of the political class assumed power, by force or peaceful means, all too often there was a clear tendency to confuse the common good with personal gain and the state of rights with the rights of the State, in other words the rights of the strongest. This phenomenon produced bitter fruits, tensions and armed conflicts whose consequences are there for all to see. That was the overall assessment made on the eve of the 1994 Synodal meeting.[3] Six years after the celebration of this event and five years after the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, where is Africa now? What signs of political recovery or improvement can be seen in this “seriously-ill patient”?


            Figures rather than fine words will help to give a clear description of the situation: of the fifty-three African countries, seventeen, or one third, have been the object of armed conflicts of varying length and varying intensity, but which have once again sown death and desolation on this continent. Cries of warning and alarm signals were never lacking but the heavy layer of indifference and private interests stifled them.[4] In turn, the Holy Father, who rightly considers himself a “friend of Africa”, has repeatedly raised his voice in support of the voiceless to decry the apathy of western consciences, the irresponsibility and thirst for power of African political leaders: “Today, in the greatest silence, intimidation and killing still continue… I wish to address the political leaders of these countries: if violent attainment of power becomes the norm, if insistence on ethnic considerations continues to override all other considerations, if democratic representation is systematically put aside, if corruption and the arms trade continue to rage, then Africa will never experience peace or development”.[5] “In order to be helped, African governments must be politically credible … If you do not commit yourselves more resolutely to national democratic dialogue, if you do not more clearly respect human rights, if you do not strictly administer public funds and external credit, if you do not condemn ethnic ideology, the African Continent will ever remain on the margin of the community of nations”.[6]


            It is certain that resolving the conflicts remains the first step towards ensuring security and development in Africa. But Africa must show its willingness to rely on political rather than military responses to resolve its problems.[7] Finally, to complete this picture, we must condemn the growing disinterest on the part of the international community with regard to Africa. The few international initiatives undertaken were doomed to failure because of the connivance of major powers opposed to them or even their being rejected by the parties to the conflict. As a result, most of the ongoing conflicts are “forgotten wars”.


2. Economically


            Closely related to the political situation, Africa’s economy which, after showing a growth rate at the beginning of the 1990s indicating some light at the end of the tunnel and the end of a long period of economic difficulties, gradually became bogged down due to a number of factors: an agriculture over-dependent on meteorological conditions; a drastic lack of adequately trained and competent indigenous personnel in the economic and financial sectors; political, civil and financial insecurity which drove away international capital and investments; excessive local taxation policies; the gangrene of corruption at all levels of society, etc.


            In 1997, of the 53 African countries:


·     3 had a negative growth of GDP, as compared with 12 in 1994 and 18 in 1990

·     15 had 0 to 3% growth of GDP, as compared with 13 in 1994 and 10 in 1990

·     26 had a 3 to 6% growth of GDP, as compared with 20 in 1994 and 14 in 1990

·     7 had a 6 to 8% growth of GDP, as compared with 4 in 1994 and 6 in 1990

·     2 had over 8% growth of GDP, as compared with 4 in 1994 and 4 in 1990


            In 1997, Africa had an overall GDP growth of 2.9%.[8], while economists consider that a growth rate of at least 7% is necessary to have a real growth of wealth because of the high rate of population growth. Africa’s population increased effectively from 705,567,000 in 1994 to 766,627,000 in 1999.[9] Despite these figures, which would appear to indicate an economic situation expanding after all, the truth of the matter is clearly highlighted when one compares figures relating to Africa’s participation in world trade over 1994 (2.4%) and 1997 (1.9%) bearing in mind that at the same time the global volume of world trade went from 5.3% (1996) to 9.4% (1997). In the context of a world economy in expansion, the regional African economy has been in regression.[10]


            Agriculture, still over-dependent on the vagaries of the climate, swung from the best to the worst, which has led the continent to coping with a serious food deficit, spread unequally over different regions. According to recent data from FAO, out of 30 countries receiving the benefits of emergency food aid projects, 20 are on the African continent.


            The industrial sector is in recession with a 3.3% growth rate in 1997 as compared with 5.4% in 1994, despite the dynamic development of the petroleum and construction sectors. Finally, the services sector is progressing at a constant growth rate of 4%.


            The external debt burden continues to weigh heavily on the economies of the African countries: 349 billion US$ dollars in 1997 against 312 billion US$ dollars, an increase of 8.6%. The servicing alone of this debt amounts to 33 billion US$, as compared with 31 billion US dollars in 1996, equivalent to 21% of export income for goods and services.[11]



3. Socially


            Having seen the tragic political and economic situation, it follows that the social chapter can only be in the same vein: health and social services, education and the general quality of life are all going through a very difficult phase, to say the least.


            Only recently WHO published its annual report on health in the world and classified the 191 countries taken into consideration. According to this classification, of the 53 African countries, 35 were classified among the last 50 and 17 were among the last 20.[12] Northern Africa and the small islands of the Indian Ocean were among the best classified, whereas the countries of sub-Saharan Africa featured among the last, with the exception of Senegal.[13] Health-care infrastructures are still generally inadequate in relation to the needs and above all they are under-equipped due to lack of funds. In the hospitals of central and eastern Africa, 50 % of the available beds are occupied by AIDS patients.[14] Throughout the world, 90% of deaths from malaria occur in Africa. Another serious problem is the persistence of shortages of drinking water for the population. Only four African countries reported results that reached WHO standards in the context of the "Health for All in the Year 2000" campaign.[15]


            Access to education is at a standstill, even though education is the focus of development concerns in African countries. At the beginning of the 1990s, the level of education was at 61%, while in Latin America and the Caribbean it reached 87%. An example of what this means: for an age group that increases by 3% a year, the growth in schooling facilities increases by only 2.2%. In response to this problem in 1996 the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the OAU adopted the resolution for a ten-year plan for education (1997-2006)[16] which called for: education for all; quality of education; education for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding; the mobilization of the necessary material, human, technical and financial means. A vast programme indeed.


            Recent estimates of urban employment[17] give unemployment figures: between 20% and 30% depending on the country; under-employment between 25% and 50% and youth unemployment between 25% and 40%. Galloping globalisation of the economy is also a serious challenge for employment in Africa.


            But one of the worst scourges afflicting the continent is undoubtedly poverty. The most recent reports from international organisations place most African countries at the bottom of the global ranking of personal income. In 1995, the Holy Father[18] appealed in this respect for greater international solidarity for Africa and in 1998[19] completed this by seeking to make Africans themselves aware of their responsibilities, inviting them to take their future in hand, not to rely on outside assistance for everything and to show more "African" solidarity to countries in difficulty.


            It is urgently necessary that territorial disputes, economic initiatives and human rights should mobilize the energies of Africans to arrive at equitable and peaceful solutions which will allow Africa to face the 21st century with better opportunities and more confidence.[20]




II. The Church in Africa Has Changed


            Having thus outlined the situation on the African continent since 1994, let us now consider how the Church in Africa has adopted the conclusions of the Special Assembly for Africa contained in Ecclesia in Africa. Already since a few years, unlike the political leaders, the Church in Africa has recalled the prophetic phrase of Paul VI "you Africans, you are your own missionaries!" and has sought to develop a local autochtonous Church without idly waiting for external assistance to solve local problems. But what has happened since the celebration of the Synod? What has changed?



1. Expansion of Catholics


            The theme of the Special Assembly for Africa was a programme in itself: "The Church in Africa and her evangelizing mission toward the year 2000 'you shall be my witnesses' (Acts 1:8). This missionary verve, this ardent desire to witness and proclaim Christ, produced an amazing vitality and ecclesial growth. In 1994, Africa had 705,567,000 inhabitants, of which 102,878,000 were Catholic, that is, 14.58% of the population. In 1998, with 748,612,000 inhabitants Africa had 116,664,000 Catholics, 15.58% of the population. In just 5 years, the Church improved her position by 1% in the religious landscape of Africa. This regular growth of the People of God was not just a numerical fact, the maturity of faith also bore exceptional fruits at the vocational level: in 1993, Africa had 16,471 candidates preparing for the priesthood in various establishments of ecclesial formation; in 1998, the number reached 19,654, increasing by nearly 18%. Ordinations also showed enviable results: from 737 in 1993, with regular increases the number reached 1,071 in 1998. The final count shows an increase of 25% in local clergy between 1993 and 1998.[21]


            Another fact which illustrates the vigour of the Church in Africa is undoubtedly the creation of new dioceses: 49 from 1994 to 2000, without counting 17 dioceses which have become archdioceses and the 5 dioceses in fieri[22] which were transformed into full dioceses. Thus the African episcopate grew from 428 in 1994 to 482 in the year 2000, a 12.5% increase. While this growth is generalized, certain countries stand out in particular; listed here in alphabetical order: Benin (+50%), Cameroon (+21%), Ethiopia/Erithrea (+36%), Ghana (+125%), Kenya (+28%), Nigeria (+15%), Uganda (+15%), Central African Republic (+33%) and Togo (+75%). This naturally explains why the number of national and international African Episcopal Conferences rose from 34 in 1994 to 36 in 1998.[23]


            The image projected by these figures reveals a vigorous local Church, confident in her capabilities and working for the future in spite of the general context of the society in which it evolves.



2. Renewal of Pastors in Africa


            Parallel to the numerical growth of the episcopate to which we have referred, one cannot ignore the great renewal of the Pastors themselves. In fact, it is enough for us to note that since the end of the Special Assembly for Africa, for the 190 African Bishop members out of the 239 which made up the Synod Assembly, only 137, that is, more than 73%, saw their situation unchanged, while out of the 53 remaining members (27%) 4 were created Cardinals (2.1%), 23 were promoted or transferred (11.6%), 8 became emeritus (4.2%) and 24 died (13.5%).24  In the meantime, other participants in the Synod also became Bishops: one priest member, four experts, an auditor and 3 assistants of the General Secretariat.


On the entire African continent, 213 Bishops out of a total of 482 were appointed or promoted25 since the end of the celebration of the Synod. This gives us an even higher renewal rate than that of the members of the Assembly itself, with about 45% in a very short span of time (1994-2000).


While on the one hand, the rapidity of episcopal renewal in Africa is a cause for joy because of the new sap that is flowing in the veins of the episcopal body and the fountain of youth which it is procuring for it, on the other, it implies a certain apprehension, for most of the new Pastors have not  fully participated in the Synod. Now the implementation of the resolutions of Ecclesia in Africa require first of all a change in mentality in order to go beyond ethnic ideology –  each Pastor taking pains to act in such a way that each of his faithful feels truly a member in a total capacity of the Church-family of God – to combat the corruption in society and to encourage civil peace. Hence the importance of the sessions of aggiornamento and formation organized by the Episcopal Conferences or the Apostolic See26 with the aim of deepening and promoting the decisions of the Exhortation and thus encouraging a great pastoral and ecclesial communion among those who experienced the Synod and the newcomers.


3. Impact of the Synod and Ecclesia in Africa


In a first report published in 1998, the General Secretariat of the Synod was already able to underline the first achievements of the Synod and of the Post-Synodal Document.27


First of all, the dissemination of the Document, left to the discretion of the Episcopal Conferences, has largely depended on their dynamism in this task. There are many who have distributed it widely and reproduced it with local publications in national languages, sometimes in simplified versions. Others, to aid personal or community reflection, have published booklets presenting the important themes treated or the reflection. Institutes for the advanced study of theology and major seminaries have been involved in compiling the Guide to the Interpretation of the Exhortation. Lastly, the Conferences which have a national publication or have access to one of these journals, have published simple commentaries on various aspects addressed in the Post-Synodal Document. However, in general it is being distributed at the diocesan level.


The principal obstacles to its distribution have certainly been of two kinds: financial and cultural. The former because of the normal costs incurred by publication in the media and the latter because of the many different local languages together with the illiteracy of a large sector of the population. Nonetheless it appears that imagination, creativity and the local spirit of initiative have outdone themselves in making the Document accessible to the greatest possible number of people.


Having accomplished the first phase of its distribution, it was necessary to move on to that of the projects and the practical implementation of the resolutions of the Document. Thus in the first place many people felt the need for an ad hoc organization to be set up, to monitor its application. Overall, four forms were decided upon: the creation of national or diocesan commissions or the appointment of a diocesan coordinator in charge of the application of the various points presented in Ecclesia in Africa or of pastoral plans for the dioceses based on Ecclesia in Africa. Others, however, opted explicitly for the non-creation of a supplementary body, entrusting the implementation to an already existing structure. Finally, an ever greater number of dioceses chose the way of a diocesan Synod or a pastoral plan, diocesan or national. In this way the whole life of the diocese found itself directly in line with Ecclesia in Africa. As for the pastoral plans, they generally extend over a minimum period of 5 years so that the pastoral project is firmly rooted in the local ecclesial situations (parishes, movements, groups, grass-roots communities, etc.).


Therefore the projects implemented or whose implementation is underway are of different types: structural, formative or exhortative.


Structural, with the constitution or invigoration of national, diocesan or even parochial commissions. Already many diocesan or national Synods have been or are on the point of being celebrated. Their conclusions, in turn, become the foundations of all the pastoral work of the years to come. The notion of the Church-family is very often the most valued mainspring and introduces one by one all the themes of the Special Assembly and of Ecclesia in Africa. Those who did not opt for the solution of the local Synod instead often planned a pastoral programme spread over several years for which an annual theme for reflection is chosen. There too, the basic theme of the family has very often been given priority, which makes it possible to face a number of questions that are crucial to the communities: inculturation, the unity of communities in the face of tribalism, the formation of the various family members (lay people, clerics, religious), communication, the sacraments and new ministries, financial self-sufficiency. There is also a flourishing of new lay associations that are committed to encouraging the development of the local Church, signs of a Church that is alive and growing.


The list of projects achieved or being achieved regarding formation is impressive and shows the extent of the effort made by the different local Churches to sensitize their faithful and their pastoral workers about the thorny problem of personal and continuous formation: under the impetus of the various diocesan commissions, national or regional, an exceptional range of seminars, workshops, lectures and sessions presenting the themes and problems of Ecclesia in Africa is offered to the faithful and more particularly, to the lay formation teachers, clerics and consecrated persons. Moreover, the formation of future priests and other pastoral agents is being revised to bring it into conformity with the conclusions of Ecclesia in Africa. Likewise, catechetical directories, revised and corrected in accordance with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Ecclesia in Africa are being published. Lastly, it should be emphasized that there is a courageous project consisting in the creation of a Catholic university with the objective of training lay faithful who can make a notable contribution to the society of the future, in accordance with the Document’s instructions. The faculties chosen, to begin with, all have a useful end for society: economics, law, educational science, agriculture and medicine.


On a par with all these proposals for formation, pastoral and Synodal plans, the Pastors have sought, at both national and diocesan levels, to exhort and encourage their faithful by means of Pastoral Letters, on pastoral subjects or current problems (justice, social peace, economics, political life, corruption, etc.). Most of the Conferences have made ample use of them. To facilitate the implementation of the directives of the Exhortation, congresses or large diocesan meetings have been organized, (diocesan days), at national and regional level.


The projects planned focus on the diocesan or national Synods and on the diocesan or national pastoral plans. Several Conferences have felt the need to provide for the drafting of a common pastoral project at the national level.


In accordance with the conclusions of Ecclesia in Africa on this subject, several Conferences have included among their priorities the financial management of their particular Church as well as great attention to the solidarity among the particular Churches in a single geographical area. At the continental level, S.E.C.A.M has reformulated its Statutes in order to follow more closely the indications of the priorities mentioned by the Exhortation, especially those concerning institutional pastoral solidarity.


Finally, with regard to the disturbing phenomenon of the proliferation of sects, certain people advocate the establishment of grass-roots communities with a human dimension, encouraging the acceptance of people, their awareness of responsibilities and their fulfilment.




III. Future Prospects: The church must change Africa with Ecclesia in Africa


            As the Holy Father stressed,28 the African peoples have many expectations and must not be disappointed. The Church must respond to the Africans’ thirst for God by an inculturated proclamation of the Good News to the millions of people who are not yet evangelized. In fact, respect and esteem for the non-Christian religions cannot bring the Church to stifle her proclamation of Christ the Saviour, the definitive response to all the questions of humanity seeking the truth about God, about man and his destiny, about life and death.


            With regard to the religious, ethnic and tribal divisions which threaten the pursuit of the common good of the whole of society and foster serious reciprocal hostilities, the Church in Africa is called to work to reduce these profound divisions and to overcome, both in the community and outside it,  these antagonisms which are in opposition to the Gospel. For this reason ecumenical and interreligious dialogue find their full meaning here. Recently, in the framework of this dialogue, Islam has been causing some concern in certain parts of the continent, because of the aggressive attitude it has adopted towards the faithful of other denominations. Therefore, in addition to the well known situation of Sudan, there is the recurring tendency of various States of the Federation of Nigeria to proclaim the Sharia in a multiethnic and multi-confessional country.29


            Another challenge to be faced is that of Christian marriage and family life, so that the Church may rediscover, appreciate and promote the values of the traditional African family which are compatible with the Gospel.


            As we have amply stressed in the first part of this communication, questions such as poverty persist – or are growing – in Africa, rampant urbanization, the international debt, arms trafficking, the problems of displaced persons or refugees, demographic and health-care problems, ethnic and tribal conflicts, etc., are the challenges that confront the proclamation of Christ in Africa. This is what St. James said in his letter: “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them ‘God in peace, be warmed and filled’ without giving them the things they need for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas 2:15-17).


That is why, when the world seems deaf to the cries of the forsaken continent, the Church listens to these groans of pain and accompanies those who are smarting from the scars of humiliations suffered, to be the voice of those without a voice in each African country and in the international concert of nations. Faithful to her prophetic role with regard to Africa, the universal Church reminded the great of this world of five priorities, in order to restore to Africans what violence had wrenched from them: respect for life and religious differences, the eradication of poverty, the end of arms trafficking, the solution to wars and action with a view to development motivated by solidarity.30 Moreover, the Church in Africa has amply committed herself in the field, she has certainly not awaited the celebration of the Synod to do so, but the Synod Assembly seems to have had the effect of a spur, prompting her to act in the areas which required courageous and urgent action. This action must follow her effort in an orderly and concerted way so as to utilize as well as possible the scant personnel and material means available to the local Church and to direct them in accordance with two guidelines: short-term projects to respond to immediate needs, and others, middle- to long-term, to prepare for a better future: formation, inculcating a sense of responsibility, structures, proclamation.


            Lastly, if building the kingdom of God is to be the work of all the members of the Church-family of God – and chapters VI and VII of the Exhortation provide a number of suggestions and areas where personal commitment is necessary and urgent – nevertheless the action and example of their Pastors remains crucial for the faithful overall. I therefore call upon you to look positively at all that has been done despite the harmful action of certain forces of civil society, not to relax your efforts and to pursue constantly the work undertaken for benefit of the African continent. Indeed, at the present time, the Catholic Church is one of the few structures which is able and willing to serve Africa in a disinterested way.


            The burden of this immense task rests on your shoulders, and you cannot fail, for the eyes and hopes of the Africans are turned to the Church. One point however, gives rise to the perplexity and concern of many: a number of conflicts which are marked by the ferocity of the fighting and the gratuitous violence and cruelty of the aggressors have been fought in countries with a strongly Christian majority. What lessons can we learn from this to heal the wounds of communities and to avert new tragedies? How can the faithful be taught to avoid the crude traps into which they so easily fall: in the first place politicized tribalism and corruption with its impunity? Without the joint effort of all the living forces of society, especially the ecclesial forces, the vicious circle of  “p.i.c.” (poverty insecurity, corruption) will never be broken.


Open conclusion


            To conclude, I again express my admiration for all that has been done so far since the publication of Ecclesia in Africa and I beg you not to stop in this good progress: the hardest part is getting started. Therefore continue the work already begun with perseverance, keeping alive among you the memory and state of mind engendered by the process and celebration of the Synod, and you will see that little by little the fruits of the Synodal Assembly will ripen.


Thank you very much. 

[1] Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, 41: AAS 88 (1996) 27.

[2] Cf. ibid.

[3] Cf. Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, Relatio ante disceptationem, 4 and 29.

[4] Cf. Mgr Georges Panikulam, Chargé d’affaire ad interim of the Holy See to the UN, “On the causes of conflicts, peace and sustained development in Africa”. Intervention at the 54th Plenary Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (9 December 1999); cf. Amnesty International, Annual Report 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.

[5] John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 4 (10 January 1998): ORLF 2502 (1998) 2.

[6] John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 6 (13 January 1996): ORLF 2401 (1996) 3.

[7] Cf. Kofi Annan, Report of the Secretary General of the United Nations, 1998, 104.

[8] The growth rate was 2% in 1994, 2.7% in 1995, and 4% in 1996, giving an average of 2.9% over the period 1994-1997.

[9] For information: of the 20 countries with the highest population of under 15s, Africa is in the lead with 16 countries, followed by Asia (3) and Latin America (1), with an average ranging from 46 to 49%. In comparison, of the 20 countries with the highest proportion of persons over 60, Europe is in the lead with 19 countries, followed by Asia (1), with an average ranging from 13 to 17%.

[10] Cf. United Nations Organization, Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2000, table 1.2. For the period 1997 to 2000, the table highlights the persisting decline of pro capita GDP for 8 countries in 1997, 13 in 1998, 12 in 1999, 7 in 2000 and a growth of over 3% percent for 10 countries in 1997, 11 in 1998, 7 in 1999 and 10 in 2000. In terms of percentage of population 22.3% saw their pro capita GDP decrease in 1997, 48.1% in 1998, 35.7% in 1999 and 22.4% in 2000. At the same time, only 18.9% of the population saw their pro capita GDP increase in 1997, compared with 25% in 1998, 15.7% in 1999 and 25.6% in 2000.

[11] United Nations Organization, Report on the African Economy 1998, table 1.7. Over the period 1994 to 1997, this table shows the increase of the external debt, the increase of the percentage of the debt in relation to the GDP and at the same time, the decrease of the debt burden which went from 38.3 billion US$ to 33 billion US$.

[12] World Health Organization, World Health Report 2000, table 10.

[13] Cf. ibid. Table 10 shows Morocco as the top African country (20th) followed by Tunisia (52nd), Seychelles (56th), Senegal (59th), Egypt (63rd), Algeria (81st), Mauritius (84th) and Libya (87th). In the 10 last places there are: Sierra Leone (191), Central African Republic (189),  Democratic Republic of Congo (188), Nigeria (187), Liberia (186), Malawi (185), Mozambique (184), Lesotho (183), Zambia (182), Angola (181).

[14] The 13th AIDS Conference held last July in Durban recalled that in Africa 22 million individuals are infected with AIDS. According to figures published by UNAIDS, 7 out of 10 HIV cases are in Africa and 90% of AIDS patients are under 15. Moreover, less than 10% of those contaminated are aware of this, the rest spread the virus unwittingly.

[15] These were Algeria, Botswana, Cape Verde and Mauritius.

[16] Resolution AHG/Res.251 (XXXII).

[17] FAO data for 1999 establish that: of the 766,621,000 inhabitants of Africa, 284,013,000 live in cities and 482,608,000 live in rural areas.

[18] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 5 (9 January 1995): ORLF 2349 (1995) 2.

[19] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 4 (10 January 1998): ORLF 2502 (1998) 2.

[20] Cf. Ibid.

[21] Cf. Secretariat of State, Statistical Yearbook of the Church 1998, Vatican City 2000. In 1993: 12,231 priests, 737 ordinations, 117 deaths, 30 defections; 1994: 12,937 priests, 951 ordinations, 145 deaths, 29 defections; 1995: 13,421 priests, 939 ordinations, 137 deaths, 31 defections; 1996: 14,124 priests, 1,005 ordinations, 199 deaths, 31 defections; 1997: 14,873 priests, 1,006 ordinations, 172 deaths, 42 defections; 1998: 15,535 priests, 1,071 ordinations, 181 deaths, 29 defections.

[22] Vicariate Apostolic, Prefecture Apostolic, sui iuris Mission, etc.

[23] In 1994 there were 34 Episcopal Conferences in Africa plus the one associated to the C.E.D.O.I.;  in the year 2000: 36 Episcopal Conferences, plus the C.E.D.O.I., following the constitution of Episcopal Conference of Namibia in 1996 and that of Liberia in 1998.

24 The total number of categories exceeds 190 (and therefore 100%) for certain members belong to more than one category.

25 To be more precise, there are 167 newly appointed Bishops, and 46 have been promoted. The detailed numbers, country by country, are provided in appendix n. 2.

26 Cf. John Paul, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa,  98: AAS 88 (1996) 61.

27 Cf. General Secretariat of the Synod, Mise à jour du bilan et des projets réalisés ou en cours à la suite de l’Exhortation Apostolique Post-Synodal Ecclesia in Africa, Vatican City 1998.

28 Cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, 47ff: AAS   (1996) 30-33.

29 Since 1999, eight States of Nigeria has established Islamic law or announced their intention of introducing it, the most recent being that of Borno.

30 Cf. Archbishop Jean-Louis TAURAN, Secretary for the Relations with States of the Holy See, Address to the Members of the Security Council of the United Nations Organization (24 April 1998): ORLF 2518 (1998) 2.