ARUA DIOCESE WEBSITE>> THE CHURCH IN AFRICA
- SECOND SPECIAL ASSEMBLY OF BISHOPS - LINEAMENTA
SYNOD OF BISHOPS
SECOND SPECIAL ASSEMBLY OF AFRICAN BISHOPS
The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and
THE WITNESS OF A CHURCH REFLECTING THE LIGHT OF CHRIST ON THE
WORLD NOS. 53-81.
The Church’s mission is to proclaim the good news of
salvation, a salvation that frees man, every man, in every way:
spiritually, morally, culturally, economically and socially.
This is the mission of the Church-Family of God in Africa. All
members of the Church are called to this task, whatever their
place and circumstances of life. (53)
This is the introduction to the longest and the most ‘down-to-earth’
Pastoral chapter of the ‘Lineamenta’. I am going
to present a sketch of it
4.1 – The Church in Her
Hierarchical Aspect and Witness in the World
4.1.1 – The Role of the
Bishop and Bishops’ Conferences.
The bishop is the first Pastor of the local Church, thus this
responsibility falls primarily on him. He is to manifest a genuine
determination in finding solutions to problems by detecting
their real causes. The bishop is to be a reconciler without
any preconceptions. The bishop’s action will be effective
in collegiality and solidarity with his confreres in the episcopacy.
Bishops conferences should re-establish and make truly operational
various Justice and Peace Commissions. Each bishop’s conference
will have to exercise particular pastoral care in responding
to the needs of the various segments of society (groups of experts)
4.1.2 - Justice and Peace Episcopal Commission (each conference
or each diocese ought to have a commission) (no. 57)
4.1.3 – Priests, Consecrated
Persons and Formation Institutions in the Church.
a) – Priests.
The specific mission of priests and pastoral workers in the
Church is not political, economic or social in nature. Priests
contribute towards progress in reconciliation, peace and justice
in Africa through their preaching, catechesis, pastoral care
of the family. (58).
b) – Consecrated Persons.
They are called to work for the advent of reconciliation, justice
and peace by living their charisms and fully embracing the evangelical
counsels in their own communities and the world” (59).
c) – Formation Institutions in the Church.
Proper preparation is extremely important. Courses and teaching
seminars on peace and justice need to be introduced into formation
programs. Catholic educational institutions are called to make
a valuable contribution. (60)
4.2 –Commitment of all the
Faithful in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.
4.2.1 – Identity and Mission
of the Laity in the Church and the World.
The time has come for lay Christians in Africa to make a large-scale,
resolute commitment to Church and the State. The mission of
the laity pertains to the very nature of the Church. This is
particularly important and needed in Africa today. The Church
comprises of many members, but she is united; she is the Body
of Christ, the People of God…The laity’s secular
character determine the specificity of their mission…
The role of the laity is to bring about the Kingdom of God in
the administration and organisation of earthly realties according
to the divine plan. The service of the laity shares in the sacramental
character of the Church as the Sacrament of Salvation.
4.2.2 – The Importance of
Formation of the Laity.
History of the evangelisation of Africa illustrates an important
missionary commitment to education (Schools)…(65).The
particular Churches in Africa have to ask themselves what efforts
can be made to ensure that the laity are more aware of their
responsibility in economic and political life. It is regrettable
that in some places the Church has long neglected the formation
and education of the laity to equip them to exercise their civic,
political and social rights in the case of oppression. (66)
4.2.3 – Some Aspects Requiring
4. 2.3.1 – Mutual Respect
To convince every African that the ethnic group, region and
ideology are not absolute values, and therefore, should not
be the principal reference points for their conduct and activity.
This view of Christianity requires a break from negative forms
of solidarity. (67)
126.96.36.199 – Reconciliation
The term ‘reconciliation’ can mean many things,
according to culture and history of the event. “It can
as well mean an agreement, a consensus or the resolution of
a problem or dispute. Forgiveness refers more to the work within
a person to regain peace and to heal the wound. The Church must
help the victims to generously offer their forgiveness, even
in the cases where the ones responsible for the crimes are rightly
punished by the competent courts. It is necessary to free oneself
from the hurt and forget, following the example of the Master
of Life who freely forgave his executioners from the Cross:
“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are
doing” (Lk 23:34). (68-70)
188.8.131.52 – Reconciliation
*The healing of the entire person, body and soul, heart and
conscience, mind and will – is central and essential problem
and topic in Africa. Sometimes people feel they are given, on
healing, more attention by new religious movements and independent
African Churches than by the historical ones.*(71)
A) – Healing in its social-religious and spiritual dimension
We have to be aware of the “importance of rediscovering
Christ the Healer, as the Life-Giving Word who calls for reconciliation
and intervenes with effective medicines, notably the sacraments
which create family unity. Christ intervenes everywhere as a
healer not only for spiritual health, but bodily health as well.
The Church’s role in a divided Africa is to draw people
together as brothers and sisters, including the non-baptized,
under Christ, the Tree of Life and the Word of Reconciliation”
B) – Healing in its relation to politics, the economy
In today’s Africa, each person must be saved through not
only liberation of the spirit but liberation from internal and
external war, economic exploitation, hunger, sickness, tribalism,
injustices, dictatorship and corruption of all kinds. (74)
184.108.40.206 – Violence and Poverty
Violence oftentimes is caused by poverty as a reaction to growing
social isolation and an increasingly unjust, discriminating
society. Violence is also a cultural element. Non-violence and
peace have something to do with not only politics, the economy
and the structures of society, but also education and religion.
If the Church has the vocation to be the sign and sacrament
of peace in and for the world, she must be involved in educating
people on how to achieve peace. The non-violent resolution of
conflicts is not a utopian ideal or a fiction. Pope J. Paul
II stressed that no development of peoples is possible except
through forgiveness”. (75-77)
220.127.116.11 – To Put an End
to the Arms Trade and the Savage Exploitation of African
The call for peace means demanding stop to the arms trade in
areas of conflict. The material
force of arms needs to be replaced by the moral force of law.
Giving laws a chance
implies that they have first to be created”. (78)
18.104.22.168 – The Recognition
The call for peace means requiring the right of minorities be
recognized. Wars often arise from lack of respect for minorities.
The universal obligation of respect is based on two fundamental
1) – inalienable dignity of every person, regardless of
national, cultural, ethnic or racial origin of religious belief.
2) – the basic unity of the human race which finds its
origin in God, the Creator of all things.
The freedom of individuals and communities to profess and practice
their religion is an essential element for living in peace.
Dialogue and reconciliation are the obligatory paths to peace”.
22.214.171.124 – The Subjective
and Psychological Sources of War.
The subjective and psychological causes seem to be the traditional
conflicts between tribes, the absence of great causes to bring
together, projecting personal dissatisfaction and resentment
on others and distrust taken an extreme. Frustration is also
at the origin of social upheaval”. (81)
4.3 – Some reflections
4.3.1 - Today we ask ourselves:
what is the understood ‘Ecclesiology’, which suggests
the detailed description of the mission-witness of the Church?
We have often heard that the Church is the Family of God in
Africa. Definition of ‘Church’ as ‘Family’
refers to the ‘model’ of a “Church as Mystical
Communion” more than to that of “Institution”
which still seems to be the actual orientation in Africa.
To fulfil that aim, I think that the starting point should be
the ‘collegiality and solidarity’ of all the members
(Bishops, Priest, Consecrated Persons and Laity) of the Family.
It is the Church at this level which expresses with authority
the “sensus fidelium”. This sensus fidei may be
described as an active capacity for spiritual discernment, an
intuition that is formed by worshipping and living in communion
as a faithful member of the Church. When this capacity is exercised
in concert by the body of the faithful we may speak of the exercise
of the sensus fidelium. After all the ‘veritas’
(truthfulness) of the ‘good news’ and success of
the planned mission is guaranteed by the cooperation of all
members. In this sense, it is high time to bridge the long overdue
gap between the hierarchy and the laity. It is true: the ‘Lineamenta’
speak broadly on the commitment of ‘lay Christians in
Africa’ (nos. 61- 81) .
This raises two observations:
a) What are the Christians supposed to do so that the Church
is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, reflecting
the Light of Christ on the World? The situation is so complex
and integrated that it requires full participation of the Clergy
and the Laity;
b) It seems unfair the “look warm of confidence in the
laity, a sense that if they were not ridden with a very tight
rein, there was no knowing what they might get up to. Odd, this
lack of faith in the sensus fidelium. One might almost regard
it as a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit. A promotion of a deep
spirituality of laity can only be achieved in the life status
of lay persons, according to their family duties and professional
commitments. In other words the opening biblical text: “You
are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world
“ (Mt 5:13-14) refers fully to them as well as the Clerics.
And, as I said, to be “salt and light” – so
that Reconciliation, Justice and Peace may be reached –
means to practice “the Beatitudes” which are for
4.3.2 - Finally I wish to refer
to chapter III (nos. 24- 29):
“Religions in Service to Reconciliation, Peace and Justice
in Africa” to say that this historical opportunity of
working together towards the mentioned topics should not be
underestimated and so being misused. Of course we have to be
aware of some “Africa’s spiritual crooks”
(The Tablet, 08-04-2000, p.478).
The dialogue with some Muslim communities, members of African
Traditional Religion (ATR) and Other Christians while conducted
in a true and loving charity and clarity, must produce exactly
those fruits for which has been called the II Synod. It would
be a perpetuation of scandal if, for lack of unity, the ecumenical
dialogue would be unsuccessful. Quod Deus avertat!