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POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION


"AFRICAE MUNUS"


OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI


TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND THE LAY FAITHFUL
ON THE CHURCH IN AFRICA
IN SERVICE TO RECONCILIATION, JUSTICE AND PEACE


« You are the salt of the earth ...
You are the light of the world »
(Mt. 5: 13-14)

 

Contents
INTRODUCTION [1-13]
Part one
“Behold, I make all things new”
(Rev 21:5) [14]
Chapter I
In service to reconciliation, justice and peace
I. Authentic servants of God’s word [15-16] 
II. Christ at the heart of African life: The source of reconciliation, justice and peace. [17-18]
A. “Be reconciled with God” (2 Cor 5:20b) [19-21] 
B. Becoming just and building a just social order [22-23]
1. Living in accordance with Christ’s justice [24-25] 
2. Creating a just order in the spirit of the Beatitudes [26-27]
C. Love in truth: the source of peace [28]
1. Concrete fraternal service [29]
2. The Church as a sentinel [30]
Chapter II
Paths towards reconciliation, justice and peace [31]
I. Care for the human person
A. Metanoia: an authentic conversion [32] 
B. Experiencing the truth of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation [33] 
C. A spirituality of communion [34-35] 
D. The inculturation of the gospel and the evangelization of culture [36-38] 
E. The gift of Christ: the Eucharist and the word of God [39-41]
II. Living in harmony
A. The family [42-46] 
B. The elderly [47-50] 
C. Men [51-54] 
D. Women [55-59] 
E. Young people [60-64] 
F. Children [65-68]
III. The African vision of life [69]
A. The protection of life [70-78] 
B. Respect for creation and the ecosystem [79-80] 
C. The good governance of states [81-83] 
D. Migrants, displaced persons and refugees [84-85] 
E. Globalization and international aid [86-87]
IV. Dialogue and communion among believers [88]
A. Ecumenical dialogue and the challenge of new religious movements [89-91] 
B. Interreligious dialogue [92-93]
1. Traditional African religions [92-93]
2. Islam [94]
C. Becoming “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” [95-96]
Part two
“To each is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good” 
(1 Cor 12:7) [97-98]
Chapter I
The members of the Church
I. Bishops [100-107] 
II. Priests [108-112] 
III. Missionaries [113-114] 
IV. Permanent deacons [115-116] 
V. Consecrated persons [117-120] 
VI. Seminarians [121-124] 
VII. Catechists [125-127] 
VIII. Lay people [128-131]
Chapter II 
Major areas of the apostolate [132]
I. The Church as the presence of Christ [133] 
II. The world of education [134-138] 
III. The world of health care [139-141] 
IV. The world of information technology and communications [142-146]
Chapter III
“Stand up, take your mat and walk!” 
(Jn 5:8)
I. Jesus’ teaching at the pool of Bethzatha [147-149] 
II. The word of God and the sacraments
A. The sacred Scriptures [150-151] 
B. The Eucharist [152-154] 
C. Reconciliation [155-158]
III. The new evangelization [159]
A. Bearers of Christ, “the light of the world” [160-162] 
B. Witnesses of the risen Christ [163-166] 
C. Missionaries in the footsteps of Christ [167-171]

CONCLUSION: “Take heart; rise, he is calling” (Mk 10:49) [172-177]

* * *
INTRODUCTION
1. Africa’s commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is a precious treasure which I entrust at the beginning of this third millennium to the bishops, priests, permanent deacons, consecrated persons, catechists and lay faithful of that beloved continent and its neighbouring islands. Through this mission, Africa is led to explore its Christian vocation more deeply; it is called, in the name of Jesus, to live reconciliation between individuals and communities and to promote peace and justice in truth for all.
2. It was my wish that the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held from 4 to 25 October 2009, should continue the work of the 1994 Assembly, “which was intended to be an occasion of hope and resurrection, at the very moment when human events seemed to be tempting Africa to discouragement and despair.”[1] The Post-Synodal Apostolic ExhortationEcclesia in Africa of my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, brought together the pastoral insights and proposals of the Synod Fathers for a new evangelization of the African continent. It was appropriate, ten years into this third millennium, to rekindle our faith and hope, so as to help build a reconciled Africa by pursuing the paths of truth and justice, love and peace (cf. Ps 85:11). In union with the Synod Fathers, I recall that “unless the Lord build the house, in vain do its builders labour” 
(Ps 127:1).
3. Exceptional ecclesial vitality and a theological understanding of the Church as God’s Family[2] were the most visible results of the 1994 Synod. To give a new impulse, filled with evangelical hope and charity, to the Church of God on the African continent and the neighbouring islands, I thought it necessary to convoke a Second Synodal Assembly. Sustained by the daily invocation of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of countless members of the faithful, the Synod sessions bore fruit which I would like to transmit through this document to the universal Church, and in a particular way to the Church in Africa,[3] that she may truly be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (cf. Mt5:13-14).[4] Inspired by “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6), the Church seeks to offer the fruits of love: reconciliation, peace and justice (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7). This is her specific mission.
4. I was impressed by the quality of the speeches given by the Synod Fathers and the others who spoke at the sessions. Their realistic and far-sighted contributions demonstrated the Christian maturity of the continent. They were not afraid to face the truth and they sought to reflect sincerely on possible solutions to the problems facing their particular Churches and the universal Church. They also recognized that the blessings of God, the Father of all, are beyond counting. God never abandons his people. I see no need to dwell at length on the various socio-political, ethnic, economic or ecological situations that Africans face daily and that cannot be ignored. Africans know better than anyone else how difficult, disturbing and even tragic these situations can very often be. I pay tribute to Africans and to all the Christians of that continent who face these situations with courage and dignity. Rightly, they want this dignity to be recognized and respected. I can assure them that the Church loves and respects Africa.
5. In the face of the many challenges that Africa seeks to address in order to become more and more a land of promise, the Church, like Israel, could easily fall prey to discouragement; yet our forebears in the faith have shown us the correct attitude to adopt. Moses, the Lord’s servant, “by faith ... persevered as though he saw him who is invisible” (Heb 11:27). As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). For this reason I call upon the whole Church to look to Africa with faith and hope. Jesus Christ, who invites us to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14), offers us the power of the Spirit to help us come ever closer to attaining this ideal.
6. It was my intention that Christ’s words: “You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world”, would be the unifying theme of the Synod and also of the post-synodal period. When I spoke in Yaoundé to all the faithful of Africa, I said this: “In Jesus, some two thousand years ago, God himself brought salt and light to Africa. From that time on, the seed of his presence was buried deep within the hearts of the people of this dear continent, and it has blossomed gradually, beyond and within the vicissitudes of its human history.”[5]
7. The Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa made its own the idea of “the Church as God’s Family”, which the Synod Fathers “acknowledged … as an expression of the Church’s nature particularly appropriate for Africa. For this image emphasizes care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust.”[6] The Exhortation invited Christian families in Africa to become “domestic churches”[7] so as to help their respective communities to recognize that they belong to one single Body. This image is important not only for the Church in Africa, but also for the universal Church at a time when the family is under threat from those who seek to banish God from our lives. To deprive the African continent of God would be to make it die a slow death, by taking away its very soul.
8. Within the Church’s living tradition and following the desire expressed in the ExhortationEcclesia in Africa, [8] to see the Church as a family and a fraternity is to recover one aspect of her heritage. In this community where Jesus Christ, “the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29), reconciled all people with God the Father (cf. Eph 2:14-18) and bestowed the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn20:22), the Church for her part becomes the bearer of the Good News that every human person is a child of God. She is called to transmit this message to all humanity by proclaiming the salvation won for us by Christ, by celebrating our communion with God and by living in fraternal solidarity.
9. Africa’s memory is painfully scarred as a result of fratricidal conflicts between ethnic groups, the slave trade and colonization. Today too, the continent has to cope with rivalries and with new forms of enslavement and colonization. The First Special Assembly likened it to the victim of robbers, left to die by the roadside (cf. Lk 10:25-37). This is why it was possible to speak of the “marginalization” of Africa. A tradition born on African soil identifies the Good Samaritan with the Lord Jesus himself, and issues an invitation to hope. It was Clement of Alexandria who wrote: “Who, more than he, took pity on us, when by the princes of darkness we were all but mortally wounded by our fears, lusts, passions, pains, deceits and pleasures? Of these wounds, the only physician is Jesus.”[9] There are thus many reasons for hope and gratitude. For example, despite the great pandemics which decimate its population – such as malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and others – diseases which medical science is still struggling to eliminate once and for all, Africa maintains itsjoie de vivre, celebrating God’s gift of life by welcoming children for the increase of the family circle and the human community. I also see grounds for hope in Africa’s rich intellectual, cultural and religious heritage. Africa wishes to preserve this, to deepen it and to share it with the world. By doing so, it will make an important and positive contribution.
10. The second synodal assembly for Africa dealt with the theme of reconciliation, justice and peace. The wealth of documentation that was handed to me after the sessions – the Lineamenta, the Instrumentum Laboris, the reports drawn up before and after the discussions, the speeches and the summaries prepared by working groups – calls for “transforming theology into pastoral care, namely into a very concrete pastoral ministry in which the great perspectives found in sacred Scripture and Tradition find application in the activity of bishops and priests in specific times and places.”[10]
11. Hence it is with paternal and pastoral concern that I address this document to the Africa of today, which has lived through the traumas and conflicts that we know so well. Men and women are shaped by their past, but they live and journey in the present and they look ahead to the future. Like the rest of the world, Africa is experiencing a culture shock which strikes at the age-old foundations of social life, and sometimes makes it hard to come to terms with modernity. In this anthropological crisis which the African continent is facing, paths of hope will be discovered by fostering dialogue among the members of its constituent religious, social, political, economic, cultural and scientific communities. Africa will have to rediscover and promote a concept of the person and his or her relationship with reality that is the fruit of a profound spiritual renewal.
12. In the Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, John Paul II observed that “despite the modern civilization of the ‘global village’, in Africa as elsewhere in the world the spirit of dialogue, peace and reconciliation is far from dwelling in the hearts of everyone. Wars, conflicts and racist and xenophobic attitudes still play too large a role in the world of human relations.”[11] The hope that marks authentic Christian living reminds us that the Holy Spirit is at work everywhere, in Africa as much as anywhere else, and that the power of life, born of love, always prevails over the power of death (cf. S of S 8:6-7). Hence the Synod Fathers could see that the difficulties encountered by the countries and particular Churches in Africa are not so much insurmountable obstacles, but challenges, prompting us to draw upon the best of ourselves: our imagination, our intelligence, our vocation to follow without compromise in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, to seek God, “Eternal Love and Absolute Truth”.[12] Together with all sectors of African society, the Church therefore feels called to respond to these challenges. It is, in some sense, an imperative born of the Gospel.
13. With this document I wish to make available the encouraging fruits proposed by the Synod, and I invite all people of good will to look to Africa with faith and love, to help it become – through Christ and through the Holy Spirit – the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14). A precious treasure is to be found in the soul of Africa, where I perceive a “spiritual ‘lung’ for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope”,[13] on account of the extraordinary human and spiritual riches of its children, its variegated cultures, its soil and sub-soil of abundant resources. However, if it is to stand erect with dignity, Africa needs to hear the voice of Christ who today proclaims love of neighbour, love even of one’s enemies, to the point of laying down one’s life: the voice of Christ who prays today for the unity and communion of all people in God 
(cf. Jn 17:20-21).
Part one
“BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW” 
(Rev 21:5)
14. The Synod made it possible to discern the principal parameters of mission for an Africa that seeks reconciliation, justice and peace. It falls to the particular Churches to translate these parameters into “resolutions and guidelines for action”.[14] For it is “in the local Churches that the specific features of a detailed pastoral plan can be identified – goals and methods, formation and enrichment of the people involved, the search for the necessary resources – which will enable the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mould communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in [African] society and culture.”[15]
Chapter I
IN SERVICE TO RECONCILIATION, 
JUSTICE AND PEACE
I. Authentic servants of God’s word
15. An Africa that moves forward, joyful and alive, makes manifest the praise of God, since, as Saint Irenaeus observed: “the glory of God is man fully alive”. But he immediately added: “and the life of man consists in beholding God”.[16] Today too, an essential task of the Church is to bring the message of the Gospel to the heart of African societies, to lead people to the vision of God. As salt gives flavour to food, so this message makes those who live by it into authentic witnesses. All who grow in this way become capable of being reconciled in Jesus Christ. They become sources of light for their brothers and sisters. Thus, in union with the Synod Fathers, I invite “the Church ... in Africa to be a witness in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace, as ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’,”[17] so that her life may be a response to this summons: “Arise, Church in Africa, Family of God, because you are being called by the heavenly Father!”[18]
16. It is providential that the Second Synod for Africa took place soon after the one dedicated to the word of God in the life and mission of the Church. That Synod recalled the pressing duty of each disciple to understand Christ who calls us by his word. Through this word, we, the faithful, learn to listen to Christ and to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, who reveals to us the meaning of all things (cf. Jn 16:13). In fact, the “reading and meditation of the word of God root us more deeply in Christ and guide our ministry as servants of reconciliation, justice and peace”.[19] As that Synod reminded us, “to become his brothers and his sisters, one must be like ‘those who hear the word of God and put it into practice’ (Lk 8:21). Authentic hearing is obeying and acting. It means making justice and love blossom in life. It is offering, in life and in society, a witness like the call of the prophets, which continuously united the word of God and life, faith and rectitude, worship and social commitment.”[20] Listening to and meditating upon the word of God means letting it penetrate and shape our lives so as to reconcile us with God, allowing God to lead us towards reconciliation with our neighbour: a necessary path for building a community of individuals and peoples. On our faces and in our lives, may the word of God truly take flesh!
II. Christ at the heart of African life:
the source of reconciliation, 
justice and peace.
17. The three principal elements of the theme chosen for the Synod, namely reconciliation, justice and peace, brought it face to face with its “theological and social responsibility”,[21] and made it possible also to reflect on the Church’s public role and her place in Africa today.[22] “One might say that reconciliation and justice are the two essential premises of peace and that, therefore, to a certain extent, they also define its nature.”[23] The task we have to set for ourselves is not an easy one, situated as it is somewhere between immediate engagement in politics – which lies outside the Church’s direct competence – and the potential for withdrawal or evasion present in a theological and spiritual speculation which could serve as an escape from concrete historical responsibility.
18. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you”, says the Lord, and he adds “not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). Human peace obtained without justice is illusory and ephemeral. Human justice which is not the fruit of reconciliation in the “truth of love” (Eph 4:15) remains incomplete; it is not authentic justice. Love of truth – “the whole truth”, to which the Spirit alone can lead us (cf. Jn 16:13) – is what marks out the path that all human justice must follow if it is to succeed in restoring the bonds of fraternity within the “human family, a community of peace”,[24] reconciled with God through Christ. Justice is never disembodied. It needs to be anchored in consistent human decisions. A charity which fails to respect justice and the rights of all is false. I therefore encourage Christians to become exemplary in the area of justice and charity (Mt 5:19-20).
A. “Be reconciled with god”(2 Cor 5:20b)
19. “Reconciliation is a pre-political concept and a pre-political reality, and for this very reason it is of the greatest importance for the task of politics itself. Unless the power of reconciliation is created in people’s hearts, political commitment to peace lacks its inner premise. At the Synod, the Pastors of the Church strove for that inner purification of man which is the essential prior condition for building justice and peace. But this purification and inner development towards true humanity cannot exist without God.”[25]
20. It is God’s grace that gives us a new heart and reconciles us with him and with one another.[26] Christ re-established humanity in the Father’s love. Reconciliation thus springs from this love; it is born of the Father’s initiative in restoring his relationship with humanity, a relationship broken by human sin. In Jesus Christ, “in his life and ministry, but especially in his death and resurrection, the Apostle Paul saw God the Father reconciling the world (all things in heaven and on earth) to himself, discounting the sins of humanity (cf. 2 Cor 5:19; Rom 5:10; Col 1:21-22). Paul saw God the Father reconciling Jews and Gentiles to himself, creating one new man through the Cross (cf. Eph 2:15; 3:6). Thus, the experience of reconciliation establishes communion on two levels: communion between God and humanity; and – since the experience of reconciliation also makes us (as a reconciled humanity) ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ – communion among men.”[27] “Reconciliation, then, is not limited to God’s plan to draw estranged and sinful humanity to himself in Christ through the forgiveness of sins and out of love. It is also the restoration of relationships between people through the settlement of differences and the removal of obstacles to their relationships in their experience of God’s love.”[28] This is illustrated by the parable of the prodigal son; in the return of the younger son (i.e. his conversion) the Evangelist shows us his need to be reconciled both to his father and, through the father’s mediation, to his older brother (cf. Lk 15:11-32). Moving testimonies from the faithful of Africa, “accounts of concrete suffering and reconciliation in the tragedies of the continent’s recent history”,[29] have shown the power of the Spirit to transform the hearts of victims and their persecutors and thus to re-establish fraternity.[30]
21. Indeed, only authentic reconciliation can achieve lasting peace in society. This is a task incumbent on government authorities and traditional chiefs, but also on ordinary citizens. In the wake of a conflict, reconciliation – often pursued and achieved quietly and without fanfare – restores a union of hearts and serene coexistence. As a result, after long periods of war nations are able to rediscover peace, and societies deeply rent by civil war or genocide are able to rebuild their unity. It is by granting and receiving forgiveness[31] that the traumatized memories of individuals and communities have found healing and families formerly divided have rediscovered harmony. “Reconciliation overcomes crises, restores the dignity of individuals and opens up the path to development and lasting peace between peoples at every level”,[32] as the Synod Fathers were anxious to emphasize. If it is to be effective, this reconciliation has to be accompanied by a courageous and honest act: the pursuit of those responsible for these conflicts, those who commissioned crimes and who were involved in trafficking of all kinds, and the determination of their responsibility. Victims have a right to truth and justice. It is important for the present and for the future to purify memories, so as to build a better society where such tragedies are no longer repeated.
B. Becoming just and building a just social order
22. There is no doubt that the building of a just social order is part of the competence of the political sphere.[33] Yet one of the tasks of the Church in Africa consists in forming upright consciences receptive to the demands of justice, so as to produce men and women willing and able to build this just social order by their responsible conduct. The model par excellence underlying the Church’s thinking and reasoning, which she proposes to all, is Christ.[34] According to her social teaching, “the Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim ‘to interfere in any way in the politics of states.’ She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish ... [one] that the Church can never renounce. Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the truth which sets us free.”[35]
23. Through her Justice and Peace Commissions, the Church is engaged in the civic formation of citizens and in assisting with the electoral process in a number of countries. In this way she contributes to the education of peoples, awakening their consciences and their civic responsibility. This particular educational role is appreciated by a great many countries which recognize the Church as a peacemaker, an agent of reconciliation and a herald of justice. It is worth repeating that, while a distinction must be made between the role of pastors and that of the lay faithful, the Church’s mission is not political in nature.[36] Her task is to open the world to the religious sense by proclaiming Christ. The Church wishes to be the sign and safeguard of the human person’s transcendence. She must also enable people to seek the supreme truth regarding their deepest identity and their questions, so that just solutions can be found to their problems.[37]
1. Living in accordance with Christ’s justice
24. On the social plane, human consciences are challenged by the grave injustices existing in our world as a whole and within Africa in particular. The plundering of the goods of the earth by a minority to the detriment of entire peoples is unacceptable, because it is immoral. Justice obliges us to “render to each his due”: ius suum unicuique tribuere.[38] It is an issue, then, of rendering justice to whole peoples. Africa is capable of providing every individual and every nation of the continent with the basic conditions which will enable them to share in development.[39] Africans will thus be able to place their God-given talents and riches at the service of their land and their brothers and sisters. If justice is to prevail in all areas of life, private and public, economic and social, it needs to be sustained by subsidiarity and solidarity, and still more, to be inspired by charity. “In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.”[40] Solidarity is the guarantee of justice and peace, and hence of unity, so that “the abundance of some compensates for the want of others”.[41] Charity, which ensures a bond with God, goes beyond distributive justice. For if “justice is the virtue which assigns to each his due ... anything that takes man away from the true God cannot be justice”.[42]
25. God himself shows us what true justice is, for example when we see Jesus entering the life of Zacchaeus and offering the sinner the grace of his presence (cf. Lk 19:1-10). What, then, is this justice of Christ? Those present at the encounter with Zacchaeus observe Jesus (cf. Lk 19:7); their murmurs of disapproval purport to be an expression of their love of justice. However, they do not know the justice of love which gives itself to the utmost, to taking upon itself the “curse” laid upon men, that they may receive in exchange the “blessing” which is God’s gift (cf. Gal 3:13-14). Divine justice indicates to human justice, limited and imperfect as it is, the horizon to which it must tend if it is to become perfect. Moreover, it makes us aware of our own poverty, our need for forgiveness and for God’s friendship. This is what we experience in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, which flow from the saving work of Christ. That saving work brings us to a justice by which we receive far more than we were entitled to expect, since in Christ, charity is the fullness of the law (cf. Rom 13:8-10).[43] Through Christ, their one model, the just are invited to enter the order of love – agape.
2. Creating a just order in the spirit of the Beatitudes
26. The disciple of Christ, in union with his Master, must help to create a just society where all will be able to participate actively, using their particular talents, in social and economic life. They will thus be able to obtain what they need in order to live in accordance with their human dignity in a society where justice is animated by love.[44] Christ does not propose a revolution of a social or political kind, but a revolution of love, brought about by his complete self-giving through his death on the Cross and his resurrection. The Beatitudes are built upon on this revolution of love (cf. Mt5:3-10). They provide a new horizon of justice, inaugurated in the paschal mystery, through which we can become just and can build a better world. God’s justice, revealed to us in the Beatitudes, raises the lowly and humbles those who exalt themselves. It will be perfected, it is true, in the kingdom of God which is to be fully realized at the end of time. But God’s justice is already manifest here and now, wherever the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life.
27. In the spirit of the Beatitudes, preferential attention is to be given to the poor, the hungry, the sick – for example, those with AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria – to the stranger, the disadvantaged, the prisoner, the immigrant who is looked down upon, the refugee or displaced person (cf. Mt25:31-46). The response to these people’s needs in justice and charity depends on everyone. Africa expects this attention from the whole human family as from herself.[45] However, it will have to begin by resolutely implementing political, social and administrative justice at home; this is part of the political culture needed for development and for peace. For her part, the Church will make her specific contribution on the basis of the teaching of the Beatitudes.
C. Love in truth: the source of peace
28. The social horizon opened up by Christ’s work, based on love, surpasses the minimum demands of human justice, that is to say, giving the other his due. The inner logic of love goes beyond this justice, even to the point of giving away one’s possessions:[46] “Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18). In the image of his Master, the disciple of Christ will go further still, to the point of laying down his life for his brethren (cf. 1 Jn 3:16). This is the price of true peace in God (cf. Eph 2:14).
1. Concrete fraternal service
29. No society, however developed it may be, can do without fraternal service inspired by love. “Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.”[47] It is love which soothes hearts that are hurt, forlorn or abandoned. It is love which brings or restores peace to human hearts and establishes it in our midst.
2. The Church as a sentinel
30. In Africa’s present situation the Church is called to make the voice of Christ heard. She wishes to follow Jesus’ counsel to Nicodemus, who asked him whether it was possible to be born again: “You must be born from above” (Jn 3:7). It was the missionaries who offered Africans this new birth “of water and the Spirit” (Jn 3:5), Good News that everyone has a right to hear in order to realize his vocation fully.[48] The Church in Africa draws her life from this heritage. For the sake of Christ and in fidelity to the lesson of life which he taught us, she feels the duty to be present wherever human suffering exists and to make heard the silent cry of the innocent who suffer persecution, or of peoples whose governments mortgage the present and the future for personal interests.[49] Through her ability to see the face of Christ on the face of children, the sick, the needy and those who suffer, the Church is helping slowly but surely to forge a new Africa. In her prophetic role, whenever peoples cry out to her: “Watchman, what of the night?” (Is 21:11), the Church wants to be ready to give a reason for the hope she bears within her (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), because a new dawn is breaking on the horizon (cf. Rev 22:5). Only by rejecting people’s dehumanization and every compromise prompted by fear of suffering or martyrdom can the cause of the Gospel of truth be served. “In the world”, said Christ, “you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). True peace comes from Christ (cf. Jn 14:27). It cannot be compared with the peace that the world gives. It is not the fruit of negotiations and diplomatic agreements based on particular interests. It is the peace of a humanity reconciled with itself in God, a peace of which the Church is the sacrament.[50]

PART II

 

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