African bishops take a look back and set plan for the future at evangelization congress

.- In preparation for a second Synod of Africa, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) held a Pan-African Congress at Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania from the 15th to the 18th of January.  The gathered bishops evaluated the progress of evangelisation in Africa and planned for future evangelization projects.

The congress included a wide-ranging discussion on the topic of: "Evangelisation in Africa: Ecclesia in Africa in Retrospect and the Way Forward.”  According to Aid to the Church in Need, who was represented at the congress, the main purpose of the event was to assess how far evangelisation has progressed and to look ahead at the tasks of evangelisation that are still urgently to be addressed in the Church.

During the discussions the following matters were presented: Proclamation of the Good News, inculturation, and dialogue.  Amidst the many troubles seen in Africa, of course, those who took part in the Congress could not avoid talking about reconciliation, justice, and peace.

Christine du Coudray and Father Andrzej Halemba, who took part in the conference for ACN, stressed the importance of the family for the future of Africa

For his part, Father Patrick Thawale said, in his Jan. 17th speech about inculturation: “If we are seriously concerned about the well being of the Church and indeed of the whole world we should surely work hard to improve on the stability and strengthening of the family.”

According to Fides, the bishops were also addressed by the Prime Minister of Tanzania, who praised the Catholic Church's involvement in helping Africa to resolve her problems.  The prime minister called for a partnership between the Church and African States so that together they could embark upon prophetic actions that would help Africa to make use of her immense riches and to help her take her destiny into her own hands.  He stressed that both Church and State should work together to eradicate poverty, HIV/AIDS, corruption and bad governance.

In addition, the Congress discussed the way in which Christian minority groups in some countries are not allowed to freely express their faith.  Several representatives testified to the necessity of insisting on greater respect for religious liberty in their countries and told of their renewed efforts to witness to life and love in their evangelization.  

Congress participants also appealed to, “our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith to understand that evangelisation is not meant to proselytise but to be a free proposal of God's love manifested in Jesus Christ,” Fides reported.

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