Anticipation of papal visit a chance to denounce global terrorism and call for peace
ACCRA, Ghana — Pope Francis’ three-nation visit to Africa will take him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. In anticipation of his arrival, the Bishops of Africa have issued a statement welcoming the Holy Father to Africa, denouncing global terrorism and calling for peace, particularly in the regions of Africa now scourged by violence.
In the statement issued after last week’s bi-annual Standing Committee meeting, the bishops also commended the progress of the new, Nairobi-based Catholic News Agency of Africa (CANAA). The agency, they said, is helping the Church in Africa “to tell her own story from the African perspective.” They invited “all media organizations, professionals and individuals of goodwill to support and patronize the services of CANAA as a means of enhancing the evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa.”
Here below we publish the highlights of the statement, as Pope Francis sets down in Africa.
1) Welcoming the Holy Father to Africa
As representatives of the Church in Africa we warmly welcome the Holy Father, Pope Francis, as he makes his first Apostolic visit to our continent from November 25-30, 2015. We rejoice that the Holy Father’s visit, coming so soon after the Synod on the Family, will strengthen the faith of our peoples in the Church as Family of God and confirm us in our long-cherished Christian and African values. We are convinced that the family is and remains the fundamental and indispensable pillar of the life in the society. We call on all the people of our continent and on all our governments to commit themselves to the sustenance of African families, and protect the fundamental values of our cultures. We reiterate our commitment also to the sustenance and promotion of the institutions of marriage and the family and confirm our unshakeable belief in the sanctity of human life. We pray for the success of the Holy Father’s visit and for God’s abundant blessings.
2) No to Terrorism
We strongly denounce the terrorist attacks, in Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali, Lebanon, France and other parts of the world, which have claimed numerous innocent lives and brought sorrow and pain to many families and their countries. We condemn all acts of terrorism that have occurred in any part of the world and urge the perpetrators and their sponsors to stop. We extend our condolence and sympathy to all those who have been affected, and the government and people of such countries. We pray that the souls of the dead may rest in perfect peace and for consolation for all the bereaved.
3) An Appeal for Peace
We unite ourselves with all those who are working for peace and reconciliation in troubled areas of Africa and the world, especially in Burundi, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Kenya, Libya and some other North African countries. We appeal in the name of God to all parties involved in the conflicts in these areas to lay down their arms and embrace the path of dialogue and peace for the sake of posterity. We also enjoin the governments and all concerned competent authorities to create the conducive environment for the restoration of peace in these locations.
7) A Call to Reconciliation
To all the countries of Africa and its islands as we continue in this continental year of Reconciliation from July 29, 2015, to July 29, 2016, we say in the words of St. Paul, “it is as though God was urging you though us and in the name of Christ we appeal to you to be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Coinciding as it does with the Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016, let us all be truly reconciled with one another and through these means be reconciled with God our Merciful Father. It is only by this means shall we find God’s mercy borne of harmonious coexistence and development.
May Mary the mother of Jesus intercede for us all our prayers so that our continent, Africa, may experience true love, justice and peace. Amen.
Most Rev. Gabriel Mbilingi
Archbishop of Lubango and
President of SECAM