(Bishop of Cartagena, Colombia)
I come from Cartagena, the Latin American city that received the greatest number of Africans during the sad centuries of slavery.
Cartagena, the land of San Peter Claver, who evangelised and baptised thousands of these Africans whose descendants maintain their ancestral customs.
The population of Latin America was enriched with the cultural contribution by the African race; these hereditary values are still present: patriarchal family, wisdom of the elders, trust in Providence, peaceful cohabitation with nature.
I salute our brothers, the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar, and propose that they feel and work within the Universal Church in the following three areas:
The Mission: let us exchange our missionaries, sharing in our poverty. The religious, lay people and, especially priests. The Grace of Priesthood, as expressed by His Holiness John Paul II, "can influence the core of a culture".
The Dialogue: let us keep in touch, softly listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, to know and love each other in a better way.
The Unity: that our life and ministry be a witness of the Unity of the Church with the Holy Father and with all the Bishops of all the cultures. The prayer and the Eucharist will make this union of mind and action efficient.