DURING THE PRESENTATION OF Instrumentum Laboris
9 February, 1993
An auspicious moment has arrivedin the preparation process leading to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa: the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris, that is, the Special Assembly's "working paper". To add special significance to this historic moment a conscious decision was made to have it coincide with the Holy Father's tenth Pastoral Visit to the African continent and the 7th meeting of the General Secretariat Council of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Africa - the third such meeting on African soil.
Four years have passed since the Holy Father announces his intention to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. On the very day of the announcement, 6 January 1989, the Feast of the Epiphany, the work of preparing for this Synodal assembly was initiated by a Pre-Preparatory Commission composed for the most part by the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the presidents of the 9 regional Episcopal Conferences. This group was later expanded and transformed into the Council of the General Secretariat for the Special Assembly for Africa which has assisted the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops in the different phases of an ongoing preparation.
According to the Ordo Synodi which governs Synodal procedure, the major stages of preparation for a Synodal assembly are generally divided into two phases signalled by the publication of two documents. The remote preparation begins with the Lineamenta, a brief presentation or "outline" of the Synod topic, containing a series of questions meant to generate a prayerful reflection on all levels of the Church community. Based on the fruits of this exchange, Episcopal Conferences and other interested Church bodies each to prepare a response to the Lineamenta questions. These responses are further studied and consolidated by the General Secretariat, to form the Instrumentum Laboris or "working paper".
From the very beginning the Holy Father's decision to hold a Special Assembly for Africa was welcomed with enthusiasm at all levels of Church life on the continent and beyond. The two year period from the release - also on African soil - of the Lineamenta at Lomé (Togo), 25 July 1990, during the Ninth Plenary Assembly of the Symposium for the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, allowed sufficient time for the Episcopal Conferences, the individual dioceses, the parishes, the Catholic organisations and institutions to make an in-depth reflection on the Synod's topic.
The response was truly remarkable: some 94% of the Episcopal Conferences sent in extensive contributions, a result never before attained since the institution of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Paul VI on 15 September 1965. It can be affirmed without exaggeration that the whole Church in Africa became involved in the synodal process. The entire Catholic Church owes a debt of gratitude to the African Bishops, priests, men and women religious, theologians and laity for such a convincing and serious commitment to the Synodal endeavour.
Today, the second phase of the Synodal journey begins with the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris - the "working paper" for the Special Assembly as the Holy Father again visits Africa, in particular this land of Uganda where the blood of African martyrs was first shed in modern times. This is the first step on the road which will lead directly to the actual celebration of the Special Assembly.
The primary purpose of the Instrumentum Laboris is the personal preparation of the members who will take part in the Special Assembly by providing them with an authoritative composite picture of the state of Church affairs in Africa in light of the Synod topic. During the actual Synodal gathering, the Instrumentum Laboris' contents will serve as a reference point and agenda for discussion. By its very nature the Instrumentum Laboris is a document intended to express the consensus of the responses to the Lineamenta, and therefore should not be viewed in any way as anticipating the conclusions of the Special Assembly.
To extend the beneficial effects in the Church in Africa during the Lineamenta phase, it has pleased the Holy Father to give permission for the "working paper" to be released to the public as well, so that Bishops may make use of it for the further animation of their Churches and continued participation of all the faithful in the Synod process in this time of immediate preparation.
As in the Lineamenta, the Instrumentum Laboris is entirely devoted to treating the topic chosen by the Holy Father for the Special Assembly for Africa: "The Church in Africa and her evangelising mission towards the year 2000: 'You shall be my witnesses' (Acts 1,8)". Early in the preparatory process it was decided that the best manner to treat the subject of evangelisation was to view it from 5 specifically "African" vantage points, that is, proclaiming Christ and his Gospel, inculturating the Gospel's teachings, engaging in dialogue, applying the Church's social teaching, and using the means of social communications in service to the Gospel. Each of these areas provides a particular challenge to the Church in her work to bring Africa and its people to Christ in this her "hour" of opportunity and development. These five specific "tasks of evangelisation" on the African continent provide the titles for five chapters making up a major portion of the document.
The Instrumentum Laboris begins with the customary Preface from the General Secretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, briefly explaining the various stages of the document's development. A five-page Introduction follows, placing the Special Assembly for Africa within the context of the Synod institution and the Synodal process. Then, on the basis of Vatican II documents and the teachings of the Church's Magisterium, the initial section or Part I treats the Special Assembly's central and unifying theme of evangelisation, by first presenting fundamental theological and ecclesial concepts in the matter, and then describing the relation of the subject of evangelisation to the first sub-topics: proclamation, inculturation, dialogue, justice and peace, and communication.
Part II, the major part of the document, presents an in-depth pastoral evaluation of the "tasks of evangelisation" on the African continent, using documents from both Vatican II and those coming from the Episcopal bodies in Africa, particularly the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. Each chapter concludes with an indication of some common expectations which have been voiced in these areas in response to the questions from the Lineamenta.
Chapter I, Proclamation of the Good News of Salvation, begins with an analysis of the present situation on the African continent, listing what Vatican II calls the "signs of the times", all of which require the Church's response. Next to be treated is the subject of the various agents of evangelisation and their formation within the Church, followed by the methods needed in spreading the message of Christ. The chapter concludes with an emphasis on the Church as communion and a call for each Church member to live more fully the mystery of communion, since witness of life is the most compelling means of proclaiming the Gospel.
Citing the model of Christ's Incarnation and making allusions to Scripture, theology, pastoral practice and history, Chapter II, Inculturation, speaks of the necessity - deeply felt by the particular Churches in Africa - of rooting the Gospel of Christ in African cultures, so that it can have an effect on people and their lives. After a brief mention of the benefits of inculturation are indicated along with an appeal to all Church members to be agents for "inculturating" the Faith. The chapter then treats of various reactions to inculturation - good and questionable - before concluding with a positive look towards the future in this regard.
Chapter III, Dialogue, - the most lengthy chapter in the document -immediately touches the underlying principles of dialogue as a way of making Christ and his Gospel known on the continent, despite the difficulties involved. The presentation then directs detailed attention to the participant groups in dialogue: Christian Churches and communities (Ecumenism), Sects and Religious Movements, Non-Christian religions - especially Islam which has a particular presence on the continent - the African Traditional Religion and other World religions, not to mention non religious partners in dialogue, that is, governments. The chapter ends with a reminder that the Holy See has offered guidance and leadership in this area through various documents from the Magisterium.
Given the general state of affairs in Africa today, chapter IV, Justice and Peace, mentions a particularly times link between evangelisation and the promotion of the human person, requiring constant and faithful reliance on the social teaching of the Church. Using these principles, the chapter evaluates the situation in Africa, cites causes for these situations and then targets various areas for the work of evangelisation. Various initiatives - both by the Church and the State - are then mentioned, before the chapter concludes with an appeal for a renewed effort at evangelisation as the Church's response in this area.
After briefly making reference to the effects of modern social communications and to God's basic desire to communicate with humanity, Chapter V, Means of Social Communication, begins by commenting on the present situation of social communications in Africa and the necessity of using the means available on the continent as a tool for preaching the Gospel of Christ. Various traditional and modern means are treated at length, and the necessity and urgency of a pastoral plan cited. Such a plan would require both an adequate training of personnel and co-ordination of efforts.
The brief Conclusion restates the document's scope and purpose, and, in conjuring up the image of Our Lady gathered with the apostles in the Cenacle on the eve of Pentecost, ends in a note of great expectancy by the Church in Africa on the threshold of the Third Millennium as a result of the Special Assembly.
Date and Place of the Special Assembly
Because of the auspicious occasion of the publication on the Instrumentum Laboris and the Holy Father's Apostolic visitation, decision was made to announce at this time the date and place of the Special Assembly.
Therefore, the Special Assembly will be convened in 1994, beginning on the Second Sunday of Easter, 10 April, at that joyous time when the Church celebrates in a particularly striking manner the Lord's Paschal Mystery, the source of her identity and life.
Every Synodal gathering, even a Special Assembly which is directly associated with a region or regions of the Church, has a universal dimension or intimate link to the world-wide Church. Therefore, in an effort to highlight both the "particular" and "universal" elements in the celebration of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of Africa the following arrangement was made by the Holy Father after extensive consultation with the Cardinals and Bishops of Africa.
The working sessions or actual Special Assembly is to take place in the Synod hall in the Vatican, the site where every Synodal gathering has taken place since its inception. In expressing the very nature of the Synod, gathered cum et sub Petro, the assembly itself will benefit by the continued presence of the Holy Father, and the expertise of the cardinals in the Curia, who would otherwise be impeded from spending such a long duration of time elsewhere. At the same time, to hold the Special Assembly in Rome, caput ecclesiarum, not only acknowledges the intimate bond of communion between the Church in Africa and the Universal Church but also highlights her unique contribution on the world level within this mystical communion.
As a second phase of the celebration of the Special Assembly, the Holy Father has voiced his desire to visit various parts of Africa sometime following the working sessions for a series of post-Synodal papal celebrations to promulgate the fruits of the Synod on the continent. Such ceremonies are to include the Synod Fathers of a given area as well as the local Bishops and the rest of the Church Faithful.
The follow-up papal celebrations on the continent, besides being a strong manifestation of Church unity on the continent, proved a necessary continuity to the synodal assembly, "particularising" the Special Assembly's universal character in the context of the African continent. In this way the results of the synod will not only receive special attention and significance on the continent and beyond, but the Faithful will be encouraged to pursue the pastoral plan of evangelisation which will be set in motion by the Special Assembly.
In concluding this presentation I would like to render praise to God for the beneficial effects which have resulted thus far in this Synodal journey, for both the people of Africa and the Church as a whole. In a particular way, I am grateful to a vast number of Africans - clergy and lay faithful - who have contributed so much through their good works and prayers on behalf of the Synod to bring us to this historic moment.
In this city made holy by the Ugandan martyrs I would be remiss if I did not recall the witness of their lives which lead to the advancement of the Church in this country, the continent and beyond. We know that the communion of saints brings them close to us and the prayers of the saints bring benefit to our earthly endeavours. With this in mind, a line from the hymn these martyrs sang as they were being led to their death - a line which no doubt brought them reassurance as to the successful outcome of their actions - cheers us on as well as we go forward on our Synodal journey, because as them we "walk as pilgrims, sharing the call of the saints".
Dear brothers in the Episcopate,
1. We, the members of the Council of the General Secretariat for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, write to you from the city of Kampala, Uganda, where the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, opened the seventh Meeting of the Council of the General Secretariat for the special assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on Tuesday, the 9th of February, 1993. It was at the opening session of this Meeting, the third such meeting of the Council on African soil, that he officially launched the Instrumentum Laboris of "working document" of the Special Assembly. "With the presentation of the Instrumentum Laboris," the Holy Father said, "the Church in Africa has reached a particularly significant stage in her preparation for the Special Assembly ? The remote preparation of the Special Assembly has come to an end. The phase of immediate preparation has begun".
2. In the course of his address to us in Rubaga Cathedral, Kampala, the Pope also disclosed his decision concerning the date and place of the Special Assembly, a decision which he took after extensive consultation with the Cardinals and Bishops of Africa.
The first phase, or working sessions, of the actual Special Assembly, will take place at the Vatican, and that phase will begin on the Second Sunday of Easter, 10th April, 1994.
The Holy Father has expressed his intention of coming to Africa for a second phase of the Special Assembly, a celebration phase, to promulgate the fruits of the Synod. The second phase will be an occasion for him "to encourage the Catholics of Africa in the implementation of the Synod's proposals, and express the solidarity of the Universal Church with the Particular Churches of Africa in the pastoral tasks to be faced in evangelising this continent on the threshold of the Third Millennium". It is also the Holy Father's desire that the entire Synodal process, including the two phases of the Special Assembly, be a genuine African event.
3. We sincerely and joyfully welcome this decision of the Holy Father. The working session of the Special Assembly will thus be held in Rome, that is, in the See of Peter which, according to St. Ignatius of Antioch, "presides over the universal assembly of charity". The much desired continuous presence of the Successor of Peter at the working session of the Special Assembly will be greatly facilitated by its being held in Rome. At the same time, we feel very grateful to His Holiness for his declared intention to come to Africa, in person, for the celebration phase of the Special Assembly.
4. We seize this occasion of the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris to render deep gratitude to you, Venerable Brothers, and to all our Episcopal Conferences, for your responses to the Questionnaire of the Lineamenta. The response was truly remarkable: 32 out of 34, that is some 94% of the African Episcopal Conferences sent in extensive contributions, a result never before attained since the institution of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Paul VI on 15th September, 1965. It can be affirmed without exaggeration that the whole Church in Africa became involved in the Synodal process.
5. It seems to us truly providential that the Instrumentum Laboris was rendered public in Rubaga Cathedral, Uganda. For it was in that very cathedral that on the 2nd August, 1969 Pope Paul VI, in his address to the First Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), said, inter alia: "By now you Africans are missionaries to yourselves. The Church of Christ is well and truly planted in this blessed soil? Missionaries to yourselves: in other words, you Africans must now continue, on this continent, the building up of the Church". As we sat around Pope Paul VI's successor in the same cathedral on the 9th of February, those celebrated words re-echoed in our minds, since they are so closely linked with the theme of our Special Assembly: "The Church in Africa and her evangelising mission towards the year 2000. 'You shall be my witnesses' (Acts 1,8)."
6. With the
official publication of the Instrumentum Laboris, the Holy Father
indicated the objectives which he hoped would be achieved thereby: "Although
the primary purpose of the document is to prepare those who will take part
in the Special
7. In order to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, the Council of the General Secretariat strongly recommends that the Particular Churches in Africa receive, in an attitude of prayer, the Instrumentum Laboris as the basic document for generating a deeper reflection on the theme of the Special Assembly. Since the Instrumentum Laboris is also a synthesis of the contributions of the African Episcopal Conferences in response to the Questionnaire of the Lineamenta, a study of that document by every diocese will become a common sharing, at continental level, of the accumulated fruits of the Synodal preparation that has been made so far. That is why we earnestly plead that at both diocesan and national levels, every effort be undertaken to make known the principal contents of the Instrumentum Laboris through the media of social communication. We also plead, furthermore, that the saying of the Prayer for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops adopted by the ninth Plenary Assembly of SECAM at Lomé in July 1990, be particularly intensified during the immediate preparatory stage which we have now entered.
8. Venerable Brothers, we are called to continue to lead our Particular Churches so that each one may make its own contribution in this final stage of preparation for the Special Assembly. With you, we share a very special responsibility for the custody and promotion of ecclesial communion.
The mystery of communion teaches us that the Church extends beyond the confines of a given nation and continent - even beyond the world as know it - through time into eternity. That is why we entrust our Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops to the intercession of the Martyrs of Uganda, St. Charles Lwanga and his Companions, whom we were privileged to venerate at their hallowed shrine in Namugongo during our stay in Kampala. May Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, obtain for us, through her powerful intercession, the fullest possible success and fruitfulness of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Having been appointed by the Holy Father, President of all Synodal assemblies, to act as Presidents-Delegate during the Synodal Assembly for Africa, and considering the desire of the Council of the General Secretariat for that Synodal assembly as expressed in its meeting of 23-25 June 1993 that a letter be written to you, we, together with the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, wish to encourage you to continue your involvement in the Synodal process. In this way, while we are preparing ourselves for the important task which awaits us, we invite you also to prepare for this historical event by your sustained prayer and unflagging interest.
1. The Dates of the Synod
As you already know, the Holy Father announced in Rubaga Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda on 9 February 1993 that the working session of the Synod will begin in the Vatican on Low Sunday, 10 April 1994, to followed sometime later by a celebratory phase during which he intends to visit certain parts of Africa in order to bring to the people the results of the Synod. Furthermore, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops has been able to communicate the decision of the Holy Father that the working session will end on 8 May 1994.
2. Thanksgiving to God
In the first place, the Synod will be an occasion to celebrate and thank the almighty Father for the precious gift of faith in Christ granted to millions of African peoples. We thank him for the vitality of our Churches, many of whom have just celebrated or about to celebrate the centenary of evangelisation. We thank him for giving us so many vocations to the priestly life, for drawing so many of our sons and daughters to the consecrated life in the following of Christ, and for the dedication of so may of Christ's lay faithful.
3. The Synod process so far
The Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Africa has kept you, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, informed of the various milestones in our Synodal journey. We nevertheless consider it useful to recall some of these in brief.
6 December 1988: the Holy Father meets in the Vatican with the President of SECAM, the nine Presidents of the Regional Conferences, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Generally Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. The decision is then taken to call a Synod. The group constitutes the Ante-Preparatory Commission.
6 January 1989: His Holiness announces the Special Assembly for Africa during the Angelus Message.
7-9 January 1989: first meeting of the Ante-Preparatory Commission. The Holy Father accepts the suggestion for the theme: "The Church in Africa and her Evangelising Mission towards the year 2000: You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1,8)"
1-3 March 1989: second meeting of the Ante-Preparatory Commission. After this meeting, His Holiness appoints to the Commission the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and six more African Bishops, constituting it as the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Africa.
21-23 June 1989: first meeting of the Council. It works in five commissions, one for each of five sub-themes which are extensively explored.
14-16 December 1989: second meeting of the Council. It considers the drafts made by the five commissions. Two of the Bishops are charged with preparing the final draft of the Lineamenta.
25 July 1990: The General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops presents the Lineamenta at Lomé during the IX Plenary Assembly of SECAM which, among other things, adopted a Prayer for the Synod to be recited until it ended.
8-10 September 1990:third meeting of the Council at Yamoussoukro Ivory Coast. It is the Pope's wish that this meeting of the Council be held in Africa, and during his visit; the meeting concludes in the presence of the Holy Father.
15-18 January 1991: fourth meeting of the Council. It discusses suggestions concerning the criteria for participation at the assembly to be proposed to the Holy Father.
24-27 March 1992: fifth meeting of the Council. It considers the responses to the Lineamenta with the aid of five African theologians. A first draft of the Instrumentum Laboris is elaborated.
9-12 June 1992: sixth meeting of the Council at Luanda, Angola. This is the second time that the Council meets on African soil. The opening is presided over by the Holy Father. Three Bishops from the three language groups in Africa and two of the African theologians are charged with preparing the final draft of the Instrumentum Laboris; they work in Rome during the last week of September.
9-12 February 1993: seventh meeting of the Council at Kampala, Uganda. During this meeting, the Holy Father publishes the Instrumentum Laboris and announces the date and place of the Synod. The meeting finalises its discussions of criteria for the selection of delegates and others, and makes suggestions for the two phases of the Synod.
23-25 June 1993: eighth meeting of the Council. The Holy Father appoints the officials of the Synod. The different officials are already collaborating with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in preparing for their functions, for example, the Presidents-Delegate have just met, the members of the Commission for Information will meet with the various Vatican services for information on 7 October, and the Rapporteur, his Associate and the Special Secretaries will meet on 13 October.
It is also important to note that, since announcing the Special Assembly for Africa, the Holy Father during his many pastoral visits on the continent has often spoken about the Synod to various groups of the faithful.
4. The Synod, a "Walking together" of the entire People of God
We thank all the leaders of the People of God in Africa and Madagascar for the massive response to the Lineamenta. As many as 32 of the 34 Episcopal Conferences (that is, 94%) sent in detailed answers, a result never before attained in the history of the Synod of Bishops. Many of you reprinted the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum Laboris in your various countries, making thousands of copies available to the Christian people. Some of you translated and published them in the vernacular, other published them serially with aids for discussion and reflection. Parish and diocesan Bulletins and Catholic print and other mass media have carried news of the Synod and featured articles and discussions of the topics. Through these and other means the entire People of God in Africa and Madagascar are already in Synod, walking together in their reflection on the faith and its demands. We encourage you to continue in these efforts.
We do not forget to thank the Vatican Radio, L'Osservatore Romano , Agenzia Fides, Omnis Terra and many other Church news media who have accompanied us on this journey with great solicitude and competence.
5. The final and decisive stage of preparations
On 25 June 1993 the Holy Father initiated the final stage of preparation by appointing the officials for the forthcoming Special Assembly for Africa. This is the first time since the institution of the Synod that these officials have been named so early.
At this time, you are involved in electing your delegates and reflecting on the themes of the Synod to see which points of the Instrumentum Laboris or other themes you would wish treated and which priorities to propose. It is necessary that the Synod participants prepare their interventions to reflect faithfully the problems, the needs, the hopes and the proposals of their Churches. Everyone realises that the contributions of the participants will determine, to a great extent, the results of the Synod.
The daily prayer for the success of the Synod is an important part of the preparations. Discussion of the Lineamenta and the Instrumentum Laboris should continue at the mission station, parish, diocesan and national levels. The Synod process involves all Christ's faithful, each according to his or her gift received from the Holy Spirit. We call especially on the key people without whom it is difficult for the local Churches to make their full contribution, that is, the Presidents of the various Episcopal Conferences, the diocesan Bishops, the parish priests, our African theologians and experts, religious superiors and leaders of the lay faithful to do their very best for the success of the synod.
6. Gratitude to the Holy Father
The Church in Africa and Madagascar wishes to put on record her gratitude to the Holy Father for giving her this opportunity of a Synod to evaluate what has been achieved in Africa so far and to plan for what remains to be doing so that the Gospel may spread further on the continent and take deeper root among its people. We are particularly happy that the context of the Synod evokes the communion of the entire Catholic Church and assures us of her solidarity as we reflect on evangelisation in Africa in the Third Millennium.
His Holiness has continually shown his personal commitment to the success of the Synod; he has seize every opportunity for insisting on its importance and on the high hopes he places in it for the continuous growth of a Church, Catholic and Africa. He has above all shown unreserved confidence in the African Episcopate, whom he consulted at every stage of the process, and especially in the members of the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for the Special Assembly for Africa with whom he met regularly and whose suggestions for its organisation he always highly valued. He listened to the request of the African Bishops for a wider participation in the assembly.
7. The Synod and Church Communion
The Special Assembly for Africa is of concern to the Universal Church, and not only to the Church in Africa, the Synod being an event of the Universal Church. Convoked and presided over by the Holy Father, Pastor of the Church universal, the Synod is a symbol and expression of his solicitude and that of the world Catholic Episcopate for the good of the entire Church. Because of this ecclesial communion which binds all particular Churches together, we are sending a copy of this letter to the Presidents of all Episcopal Conferences throughout the world. This also serves to solicit prayers for the success of the assembly from the whole Church.
In this context, we wish to clarify the choice of the Vatican as the place for the working session of the Synod. The different requirements of the Synodal assembly itself and the importance of the choice of venue were thoroughly examined in the Council, as also the current socio-political situation in many parts of Africa. All the proposed venues were given due consideration. Finally the Holy Father convoked all the African Cardinals on 26 January 1993, to ask their minds on the place and time of the assembly. After having again considered all the factors involved, the Holy Father decided to have two phases, the working sessions in the Vatican and a celebratory phase, in which he will also be present, in various places in Africa. We wish to repeat the words of the Council in its Letter to you last February. "We sincerely and joyfully welcome this decision of the Holy Father. The working session of the Special Assembly will thus be held in Rome, that is, in the See of Peter which, according to Saint Ignatius of Antioch, "presides over the universal assembly of charity". The much desired continuous presence of the Successor of Peter at the working session of the Special Assembly will be greatly facilitated by its being held in Rome. At the same time, we feel very grateful to His Holiness for his intention to come to Africa, in person, for the celebration phase of the Special Assembly.
8. Our Hopes for the Synod
Much has been done in evangelisation in Africa especially in the last hundred and fifty years. The great possibilities for evangelisation need assessment, encouragement and careful planning on the continental level. We have great hopes in the forthcoming assembly in these matters.
Africa is a continent with many problems; while it is primarily for Africans to set their own priorities, the Holy Father has from time to time stressed that world solidarity towards Africa and other developing continents should not become less, especially at this time. It is our conviction that Africa will discover salvation in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, hence our hope that the coming Synod will be of great benefit to the teeming millions in Africa.
The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church and the chief agent of evangelisation. At the first Pentecost he blew like a might wind and shone as tongues of fire. May he inspire all the procedures of the assembly and guide all the persons in it so as to renew the face of Africa. May the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Africa, intercede for us and be with our preparations for, and during, this ecclesial event.
CHIDI DENIS ISIZOH