The Synod of Bishops Special Assembly for Africa concluded today. Following yesterday's final General Congregation, Pope Benedict called the Synod a success at a luncheon. Vatican Radio has an audio report on the Pope's words yesterday.
Asia News has published an English translation of the full text of the Message prepared by the Bishops during the Synod. The Message addresses the state of the Church in Africa today, and the involvement of the Church globally in welcoming Africans who have immigrated and in sending assistance and missionaries to Africa.
The Message also expresses a call to the international community, beyond the boundaries of the Church, to "treat Africa with respect and dignity" and to correct "unjust structures" in the world economic order.
Congratulating the few African countries that have "started on the route of genuine democracy" and are reaping the "dividends of doing things well", the Message also addresses those parts of Africa, such as Somalia, engulfed in conflict, and places where "greed for power and wealth at the expense of the people and nation". Concerning those conflicts, "poverty, misery and disease", human trafficking, "the atrocity of child soldiers and unspeakable violence against women", the Message calls on Africa to "rise up", and states that "it is time to change habits, for the sake of present and future generations".
Recalling that Pope Benedict XVI said, at the Synod's Inaugural Mass, that Africa is 'the 'spiritual lung' of the humanity of today, the Message states that "this is a precious resource, more valuable than our minerals and oil". The Message warns of the risks of religious fanaticism, and applauds success in interfaith dialogue with Muslims and people of other faiths, encouraging mutuality of laws permitting conversions from Islam to Christianity where the laws permit conversion from Christianity to Islam. Entrusting the Message and its commitments to Mary, the Message offers these concluding thoughts:
"Dear brothers in the episcopate, dear sons and daughters of the Church Family of God in Africa, all you men and women of good will in Africa and beyond, we share with you the strong conviction of this Synod: that Africa is not helpless. Our destiny is still in our hands. All she is asking for is the space to breathe and thrive. Africa is already moving; and the Church is moving with her, offering her the light of the Gospel. The waters may be turbulent. But with our gaze on Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 14:28 32), we shall make it safely to the port of reconciliation, justice and peace."
Today, the Holy Father celebrated Mass to conclude the Synod meeting. Zenit has an English translation of the Pope's homily and his words at the midday Angelus. Benedetto XVI Forum has photos and also has an English translation of the Pope's homily. The Daily Bulletin has the original Italian texts of the Holy Father's homily and words at the Angelus. Referring to today's readings for Mass, he expressed a "message of hope for Africa": "that the Lord of history never tires of renewing for mankind oppressed and overcome in every age and on every land, since he revealed to Moses what he wished for the Israelites who were slaves in Egypt." He called on the Church in Africa to arise:
"Take the road of a new evangelization with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit. This urgent evangelizing action, which was spoken about very much these days, also carries an urgent call to reconciliation, the indispensable condition in order to establish relationships of justice among men in Africa, and to construct an equitable and lasting peace respectful of every individual and every people. A peace that requires and is open to the contribution of all men of good will above and beyond their respective religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social affiliations."