.- Today the Vatican publicized a Message from Pope John Paul to Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and all those participating in the Special Council for Africa of the Secretariat General of the Synod of Bishops. The Holy Father’s letter was dated February 23 and written in French.
The Pope began the letter by thanking the archbishop and the synod for the "important work you have accomplished and will continue to accomplish in service to the Church in Africa."
He pointed out that the special council was formed in 1994 after the Special Assembly for Africa, and adds that it "now has the task of preparing for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa" which is scheduled for 2009.
"Noting the dynamism born of the first African synodal experience,” the Pope said, “this assembly will seek to deepen and prolong it, resting on the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa', and taking into account the local churches and their pastors, helping them in their pastoral projects, thus preparing the future of the Church on the African continent, which is living difficulty circumstances on the political, economic and social levels as well as regards peace."
Pope John Paul thanked the Lord for the impetus the Church has experienced since the last synod and adds that, “Africa is still afflicted by terrible plagues such as armed conflicts, persistent poverty, illnesses and their devastating consequences, starting with the drama of AIDS, widespread insecurity and finally, the corruption, All this weakens Africa, saps its energies, decimates its new generations and mortgages its future."
He added that for Africa to have "a stable and prosperous society," they need the efforts of all its people, especially "the sons and daughters of the Church."