.- The Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops met in Rome on February 15 and 16 to discuss preparations for that continent's second synodal assembly.
According to a communiqué made public today, the meeting, presided by Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, was attended by two Cardinals and six archbishops and bishops.
At the beginning of the meeting, Archbishop Eterovic referred to the various areas of special concern for the Church in Africa in the light of the theme of the forthcoming Synod, "The Church in Africa, in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace," and of the "Lineamenta," or preparatory document of the Synod.
The participants in the meeting highlighted the dynamism of the African Church, the increase in the number of Catholics (3.1 percent) being greater than the growth of the population (2.5 percent).
In order to favor the widespread distribution of the "Lineamenta" - which were published in June 2006 - they has been translated into various local languages such as Swahili. The bishops have also organized prayer and study meetings at university centers on the theme of the Synod. "It is especially sought to involve lay people," the communiqué reads, "to commit themselves to an integral improvement of the living conditions of all Africans: economically, culturally, from the point of view of healthcare and, above all, spiritually."
The communiqué continues: "Consideration was also given to the idea of involving representatives from other religions in the pre-synodal preparations, in order to respond, if possible together, to the current challenges facing the continent, which is seeking a more just and peaceful society ... and ever greater reconciliation."
During the course of the meeting of the special council, attention also turned to the criteria for participation, which will be put before the Holy Father prior to the official convocation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa.
The next meeting of the special council is due to be held on November 27 and 28, 2008.