(Bishop of Gbarnga, Liberia)
This intervention is on behalf of the Liberian Bishops, on my own behalf and on behalf of the many Liberians for whom the last four and half years have been a nightmare of untold proportions. It is a small attempt to add my voice to what my brother, Archbishop Francis, has already mentioned a few days ago and that is the whole notion of Justice and Peace as found in the Instrumentum Laboris, chapter IV, no. 111.
Some of us in this assembly come from countries torn apart or decimated by tribal and civil wars; from countries where the fruits of efforts made over many decades of evangelisation to establish this very Kingdom have collapsed overnight. In their place have emerged institutionalised lies and complete disregard for the sanctity of human life, desecration and massacre, injustice, hatred and war. In such a situation it is those who are innocent who become easy prey and victims. In such a situation the Church quite often is not spared; its personnel and institutions become targets.
The question is often asked in a crisis situation what Church leaders are doing about the situation. A fair question. When Church leaders speak up, they are threatened with public flogging. Again, when Church leaders speak up they are told by the mass media to confine themselves to the pulpit and not to get involved in politics, as if one loses the right of citizenship by the mere fact of becoming a Church leader. When Church leaders speak they are ignored and when things come to a head people ask, "What are Church leaders saying?". Maybe the question should be rephrased to read, "What are those who are following the Church leaders saying?"
The Church is the Body of Christ; when one member of the Body suffers the rest of the Body suffers. When the Church in one part of Africa suffers, the rest of the Church in Africa suffers, the universal Church suffers. This is why we feel strongly and appeal to this venerable Synod that wherever there are conflicts in parts of Africa and the Church in those areas is rendered voiceless, the rest of the African Church should speak out with a strong voice of solidarity, communion, support and solace on behalf of those local Churches that are suffering. The voice of the African Church through its national and regional Episcopal Conferences together with that of the Holy Father will be a deterrent to those who take the lives of our people for granted.
In conclusion, the Liberian Church is very grateful to the Holy Father for his untiring efforts on behalf of Liberia. We also thank those brother Bishops and others who, through their prayers and support, eased, even if temporarily, the pain of our people.
Original text: English