The following pages contain the public message of challenge and hope that the Second Special Synod of Catholic Bishops for Africa offer to people of good will. This three week gathering which took place in Rome, Italy from October 4th to October 25th was an opportunity to review the situation both of Church and society in these recent years on the Continent of Africa and respond as pastors. Topics ranged from the challenge to family, resource exploitation, trade imbalances, debt, climate change, role of women in Africa, conflicts, poor governance, migration, corruption, globalization, HIV/Aids and other health challenges, insufficient media coverage of the real Africa with all its lights and shadows to mention a few. But cutting across all these discussions was an experience of real solidarity, true attention to each other and concern that stirred hope and possibility for all in the face of significant challenges. This was the greatest gift of these days and the pastors of Africa offer this message and experience of solidarity to the world. Solidarity offered a sense of belonging. It is mutual. It is basic to all the particular concerns of justice, reconciliation and peace which dominated the discussions and recommendations.
I was present in Rome during this Synod and I can testify to the excitement and hope that was generated through this Synod. Africa calls for our keen attention. Africa offers the world much in terms of resources, both human and more. Africa is not the sick child that many perceive it to be. It is the young giant whose peoples and countries are coming of age and are calling for an equal place at the table.
As you read these paragraphs, keep these questions in mind.
– How has this message changed my perceptions of Africa, its challenges and its hopes?
– What more do I need to learn to better understand and appreciate the challenges and hopes of Africa?
– What does solidarity with Africa mean to me after reading this message?
– How can I share the concerns and challenges of Africa in my life and work?
More information will be available on www.afjn.org as well aswww.yesafricamatters.org in the coming months. The Synod is a process, not an event, and the implementation of recommendations from this meeting has begun. Won’t you join us!
Fr. Rocco Puopolo, s.x.
Africa Faith and Justice Network