Pope launches synod on Africa’s woes until October 25
Special to USAfricaonline.com
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday celebrated a special mass to open a month-long synod of African bishops to discuss their continent’s conflicts, social injustice and grinding poverty. Saint Peter’s Basilica swelled to the strains of a hymn in the Congolese language Lingala, while prayers were also said in Swahili, Portuguese, Amharic, Hausa, Kikongo and Arabic to start the synod, which will run through October 25.
Benedict prayed that the synod of 197 Roman Catholic bishops from Africa’s 53 states would “renew and reinvigorate (Africa’s) Church, the sign and instrument of reconciliation, justice and peace.”
The synod will build on the last such meeting, convened in 1994 by Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II, said Monsignor Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, on Friday. He said evangelisation was “urgent” in Africa, which counted some 146 million Roman Catholics as of 2007. Africa is second only to Oceania in the rate of growth of the Catholic population, from 12 percent of Africans in 1978 to 17 percent in 2006. A planning document for the talks, released in March during the pope’s tour to Cameroon and Angola, warns that “a process organised to destroy the African identity seems to be taking place under the pretext of modernity” leading to “moral laxity, corruption (and) materialism.”
During his first official trip to Africa, the pope angered many AIDS activists by remarking that the use of condoms could “worsen” the problem. The working paper suggests that training in the “promotion of moral social behaviour” was a key to combatting AIDS. The document denounces the conflicts and wars ravaging the continent, as well as political and economic corruption, human rights violations, the plight of women. AFP
CARDINAL ARINZE AND THE FUTURE OF THE PAPACY….
Special to USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine, Houston
By Chido Nwangwu.
As the facilitator of inter-religious dialogue, Arinze has seen and
interacted with differing religionists who, to varying degrees, embody zealotry and reason, lucidity of thought and rock-ribbed dogmatisms. By being a major voice for Roman Catholicism in Africa, he has enriched the goals of the Vatican to win more souls to that unique section of the Christian community.
In deftly respecting and showing sensitivity to the cultural contexts for religious evangelization and work in different regions of the world, Arinze (a Nigerian, like me, from the south eastern Igbo ethnic group as is the literary giant Prof. Chinua Achebe) seems a fitting bridge for a common, shared theology of humankind.
Our brother, The Cardinal, is neither extreme in words nor brash in personal conduct, he also stands as a role model who should be emulated by many, especially in the community of his natural origin, the Nigerian community.
Among other qualities, he shows scholarship and a rare balance of reason and theology. May your pastroral lineage endure. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder and Publisher, USAfricaonline.com and recipient of Journalism Excellence award (1999). CLICK here for full report of this essay first written online on April 7,1999, updated on April 25, 2002 and April 1, 2005