Cardinal Turkson calls for halt to 'criminal devastation' of Africa's environment

.- Speaking to the Theology College of Central Italy in Florence on Monday, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson outlined important points that came out of the African Synodal discussions last October. Among the concerns he brought up was the "criminal devastation of the environment" by multi-national companies and the role of women in society.

Cardinal Turkson, the newly installed President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, highlighted the value of the "extraordinary" Synod for Africa meetings in helping the Holy Father in his mission of building universal communion, in building relationships between people, nations and cultures and in discerning the important issues in Africa and the Church.

Presenting the challenges raised by the discussions in Rome last October, he said, "Without fear and not at all discouraged by the enormity of the problems of our continent, the bishops felt stimulated and encouraged by the African proverb that says that 'a well organized army of ants can fell an elephant.'"

One of these points, Cardinal Turkson said, was the destruction due to mining in his home country of Ghana and elsewhere. "Indiscriminate mining extraction destroys not only nature, but also human life and society," he pointed out.

"Multi-national companies must cease the criminal devastation of the environment for their greedy exploitation of the natural resources," he implored. "It is a myopic policy, that of inciting wars to obtain quick profits from the chaos, at the price of human life and blood."

This exploitation, he continued, "destroys the lives of people and nature itself," pointing to desertification caused by the destruction of natural water springs as an example.

The cardinal restated the bishops' "synodal yell" of "Enough!" in response to the repeated exploitations and the "tragic complicity and criminal consipiracy" of African economic and political leaders who collude with "external forces."

Cardinal Turkson also underscored the need for a stronger Catholic presence in Africa, with accountable leadership that sticks to its values. He proposed a link between the nature of reconciliation, justice and peace to AIDS, because "Africans cannot be completely in peace or reconciled with themselves and others if we are assailed by this violent threat in our families, our communities and our societies."

In addition, he stressed the necessity of focusing on providing opportunities for integral human development for all and the need to increase recognition of the rights and role of women. "The Synod Fathers," he said, quoting from the post-Synod message, "have also recognized that women are, paradoxically, 'the backbone of our local Church' and they are 'deprived of their rights.'"

Cardinal Turkson closed by remarking that the diversity of the Church in Africa presents the "most difficult and most important" challenge, which is implementing the results of the Synod. This "enormous job" is already in action, he said, but they are eagerly awaiting the release of an Apostolic Exhortation for the Church in Africa in which Pope Benedict XVI's will offer a complete idea of the results of the Synod.

According to the cardinal, the Pope's Exhortation is expected by the end of 2010.

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