The Pope stressed the tragic injustice of the problems facing the African continent and praised the development of the African churches and their battle to answer their society’s needs, during the 12th meeting of the Post-synodal council of the Special Assembly for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in 1994 in the Vatican.
The Pope noted how the council had, since 1994, “so often encouraged the bishops of Africa in their efforts to put into practice the conclusions of the synod which were contained in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa'.”
In regular meetings,” he said, “you have been able to verify the realizations, projects and progress of the local African Churches. These Churches are worthy of praise and admiration, especially when the political and socio-economic situations are for the most part tragically unfavorable, even if there are a few signs of comfort.”
“This continent” the Holy Father stated, “seems to know neither truces nor peace. To international conflicts must be added the hotspots of fighting that sow terror and devastation among the populations, so very anxious to live in a serenity that is finally re-discovered.”
He spoke of the other “scourges that afflict Africa and Africans”: poverty, great problems in the health and educations sectors, AIDS, insecurity due to conflicts and widespread corruption.
John Paul II underscored that all of society, and especially the Church, must act cohesively to overcome these problems.
He said the Universal Church has many times reminded world leaders of “the five priorities to give Africans what has been taken from them, often violently: respect for life and for religious diversity, the eradication of poverty, an end to arms trafficking, an end to conflicts and concrete action with a view to development motivated by solidarity.”
“Has the moment not come,” asked the Pope in conclusion, “to deepen this African synod experience? The exceptional growth of the Church in Africa, the rapid exchange of pastors, the new challenges that the continent must face, demand answers” that can only be found in putting “Ecclesia in Africa.” into action.