Maputo (Fides Service)- “The fact that three of the newly created Cardinals are Africans from Ghana, Nigeria e Sudan demonstrates that the Christian faith has taken deep root in Africa and this is an encouragement to continue to proclaim the Gospel in Africa to the many who have yet to hear it”. This was how the Catholic Bishops of Mozambique welcomed the creation of three new African Cardinals during the Concistory on October 21 in a communiqué “The light of Christ illuminates our life” issued at the end of a plenary meeting in Maputo. This year, the Bishops brought forward their annual November plenary to October to combine it with celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the election to the Papacy of Pope John Paul II and the 15 anniversary of the Papal Visit to Mozambique.
In their document the Bishops remark on the progress achieved by the local Church including formation courses for the promotion of women in cities and rural areas; commitment of lay Christians in evangelisation, catechists and community animators and also teachers and health care workers; a growing number of Christian assuming political responsibilities; the publication of the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in several of the many local languages; damaged churches repaired and new ones built.
Nevertheless difficulties remain. The Bishops voice concern for a scarcity of vocations to the priesthood and religious life; insufficient participation of Catholics at Sunday Mass; lack of respect for the Sacrament of Matrimony and an increasing number of irregular unions outside of marriage.
The Bishops also view the Church’s activity in evangelisation and human promotion. Very important in the field of providing education in Mozambique, the Catholic University of Mozambique with its faculties in Economy and Medicine in Beira, Law and Education Science in Nampula, Agriculture in Nassa, Tourism and Computer Science in Pemba. The University plans to open new faculties at Chimoio, Quelimane and Tete.
Caritas Mozambique has launched a global development project already being implemented by the individual diocesan Caritas Centres. The project includes digging water holes and wells to promote farming. The Church is also fully engaged in providing assistance to Mozambique’s returning refugees: between January and September this year 2003 33.644 people have received assistance. Besides this, the Church assists emigrants working in other countries, particularly miners in South Africa where, with the support of Caritas Italy, a school is being built for children of Mozambique immigrant workers.
The local Church is also involved in formation for media workers in order to harness new Information Technology for the proclamation of the Gospel. Mozambique has 5 radio diocesan Catholic radio stations: Radio Maria in Maputo; Radio Encontro in Nampula; Radio Pax in Beira; Nova Radio Pax in Quelimane e Radio Watana in Nacala. (L.M.) (Fides Service 17/11/2003 lines 42 words 506)