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SYNOD OF BISHOPS
SECOND SPECIAL ASSEMBLY OF AFRICAN BISHOPS
LINEAMANTA
The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace



INTRODUCTION
The next Synod is an opportunity for the Church in Africa but Much of the success still depends on the participation and involvement of ‘ spiritual movements’ , ‘living ecclesial communities’ and laity . (Lineamenta, no.91)
1.2 - We have two years for the examination of the ‘Lineamenta’: the content should be evaluated in such a way that everybody feels deeply involved in its compilation. Laity, Missionaries and Clergy should be involved. I am saying this in a theological context of communion and ‘sensus fidelium’, more than in a sociological context, as understood by democracy.
1.3 – In the first part we examine the place of Jesus in the ecclesial work of a Synod. To the many and difficult questions which the Church is going to face there is only one answer. “The Church-Family of God in Africa holds that the only solution is one Person: Jesus Christ! This is why she invites her members to continue to hope in him, the only capable of restoring Africa’s dignity and true freedom” (no. 31). The Church cannot be separated from Christ, and vice versa. The second part deals meanly with theological and spiritual understanding of “the Church in Africa” in relation to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.

The Church in Africa in Service to: RECONCILIATION, JUSTICE AND PEACE.
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the World (Mt 5:13-14).
(This is the content to deliberate upon)


1 – Second Special Assembly of African Bishops
1.1 - Second means that there was a first. “Twelve years ago, from 10 April to 8 May 1994, the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held on the topic:” The Church in Africa and Her Evangelization Mission Towards the Year 2000: ‘You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)’ “The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Africa” (14 September 1995) gathered the results of the Synod process as a whole… (Foreword).

1.2 – John Paul II, expressed his intention to convene it on the 6 January 1989, so as to allow a sufficient period of time to prepare for the Assembly. Maybe the novelty and inexperience of such an important event in the Church of Africa did not utilise all the necessary time for an accurate analysis, especially at grass-roots level. Afterwards, in the document” Ecclesia in Africa”, shortcomings were identified, which had to do with some marginal points and lack of implementation, in the life of the Church. In the meantime some of the stressed social and political problems” have only worsened” (Lineamenta, no.8).
To prevent new mistakes, it is necessary that each one of us give the best possible support, according to his / her place and role in the Community. No.91 of “Lineamenta” speaks of involvement of “spiritual movements” and “living ecclesial communities”: parishes, outstations or Small Christian Communities.
We have two years for the examination of the ‘Lineamenta”: the content should be evaluated in such a way that everybody feels deeply involved in its compilation. Of course most of the job rests on the clergy and missionaries. But also the laity should be involved. I am saying this in a theological context of communion and ‘sensus fidelium’ (the faith of people), more than in a sociological context, as understood by democracy.

2 – The Biblical Reference: Mt 5: 13-14.
I wish to underline some aspects:
a) The Bible is the starting point of this Document. Let’s read the full text: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp-stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father”.
b) The short text; rightly called the ‘Constitution of the Kingdom’ since it comes immediately after the ‘Beatitudes’ has to be considered as its conclusion.
In other words, Christians encouraged by the witness from clergy religious and missionaries; are salt and light of the world in as much as they live according to the Beatitudes. Christ says ‘If the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men’. ‘When men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you “If you are not ready for these things, you have been chosen in vain. You will inevitably be abused but it will do you no harm at all. Rather it will witness to your constancy. If, however, through fear of abuse you fall away from the zeal that benefits you, you are likely to have much worse sufferings, to have a bad name with everyone, and to be an object of contempt to all: that is what being trodden under foot means”.
More or less the same is said about the light.
Everybody is convinced of the usefulness, or rather the necessity, of salt and light in every day life. But its symbolic meaning is also clear: “Like the yeast, salt and light that Jesus spoke about, the kingdom must show itself in society and must change people, neighbours, society and the world. It would therefore be wrong to try to keep God or religion apart from public life and the realm of politics. God’s kingdom is a power which aims at transforming all things.
c) Reconciliation, Justice and Peace are expected to be the fruits of the service of the Church to the World, which means to be ‘salt and light; must be rooted in the practice of the Beatitudes.

 

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