To commit to peace, justice and reconciliation and to strengthen the faith, but above all to never surrender to discouragement and despair, relying instead in God’s mercy – after three weeks of work, the Synod’s final message was presented at the Holy See’s Press Conference on October 23rd.
The message addresses the African people and emphasizes the importance of generating peace and justice in the family and society, in a world where politicians must serve the common good. It underlines the need to safeguard the children and the environment as well as the need to change the principles that regulate the financial world.
Introduction to Message
1. It was a special gift of grace and like a last will and testament to Africa when the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, towards the end of his life, on November 13th, 2004, announced his intention to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
This same intention was confirmed by his successor, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on the 22nd of June, 2005, in one of the first major decisions of his pontificate. As we gather here for this Synod, from all countries of Africa and Madagascar and the adjacent Islands, with brother bishops and colleagues from all continents, with and under the Head of the Episcopal College, with the participation of some fraternal delegates from other Christian traditions, we thank God for this providential opportunity to celebrate the blessings of the Lord on our continent, to assess our stewardship as Pastors of God�s flock, and to seek fresh inspiration and encouragement for the tasks and challenges that lie ahead.
It is now fifteen years since the First Assembly in 1994. The teachings and directives of the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa have not ceased to be a valid guide for our pastoral efforts. In this follow-up assembly, however, the Synod has been able to concentrate on a theme of the greatest urgency for Africa: our service to reconciliation, justice and peace in a continent that is very much in dire need of these graces and virtues.
2. We started our work here with an inaugural celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided over by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, invoking the Holy Spirit to “lead us into all truth” (Jn 16:13). On that occasion, the Pope reminded us that the Synod is not primarily a study session. Rather, it is God�s initiative, calling us to listen: listen to God, to one another and to the world around us, in an atmosphere of prayer and reflection.
3. As we prepare to disperse to our various places of assignment, with renewed commitment and courage, we wish to address this message to the whole Church, Family of God, especially to the Church in Africa: to our brother bishops on whose behalf we are here; to the priests, deacons, religious and all the lay faithful, and to all whose hearts God may open to listen to our words.