Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Africa is a continent full of hope and vitality in the faith, however it also presents some situations that must be solved so that the potential available may reach its full development, for the common good and spread the Gospel. We cannot forget that many of the current shortcomings are the result of past abuses in Africa. At the end of the last Synod for Africa, Pope Benedict XVI said: “We think in particular of our brothers and sisters who in Africa suffer poverty, diseases, injustice, wars and violence, forced migration” (Homily, October 25, 2009). Our African brethren are having to suffer from a series of limitations that have been imposed on them by the greed of others. It has been pointed out that within the borders inherited from colonial powers, the coexistence of ethnic groups, traditions, languages and even religions, often presents serious obstacles due to the mutual hostilities (cf. Ecclesia in Africa, 49).
Benedict XVI has highlighted that “the reconciled Church is the potent leaven of reconciliation in each country and in the whole African continent” (Homily, October 25, 2009). In spite of the wars and ethnic conflicts, the Church seeks to carry out this mission of unity, to make Africa an image of a new humanity, reconciled in love. This reconciliation must certainly occur through what can be at times an heroic act of forgiveness for offenses. “Faith in Jesus Christ when properly understood and experienced guides men and peoples to liberty in truth, or, to use the three words of the Synodal theme, to reconciliation, to justice and to peace” (ibid.).
In order to reach this unity and keep peace, John Paul II encourages a constant dialogue within the Church, as the Family of God, as “openness to dialogue is the Christian's attitude inside the community as well as with other believers and with men and women of good will” (Ecclesia in Africa, 65). This dialogue must be extended in an ecumenical sense, to include all the baptized brethren of other Christian confessions, in order to achieve the unity for which Christ prayed, and to ensure that the Gospel is more credible in the eyes of those who sincerely seek God.
The Church, in her service to man, wishes to tread the path of justice. This is why she conveys the message of salvation by combining evangelization and human promotion. This integral development is the only way to emerge from the bondage of sickness and hunger. “This means transmitting the announcement of hope, following a 'sacerdotal form,' that is, living the Gospel in the first person, trying to translate it into projects and undertakings that are consistent with its principle dynamic foundation, which is love,” Benedict XVI has said (Homily, October 25, 2009).
We cannot conclude without recalling a fundamental truth: Christ alone is the Savior of mankind. Technical and human development, in and of themselves, cannot save man. Although it may be a necessary condition, development is not everything. The Church, as a priestly people, is called to lead people to an encounter with Christ, so that they can share in His Life. This is why, through the Sacraments, she brings them into contact with the Divine Doctor, who came not to seek out the healthy, but the sick. “Thus the ecclesial community, in the steps of its Master and Lord, is called to walk decisively along the path of service, to share the condition of men and women in its time, to witness to all the love of God” (Benedict XVI, Homily, October 25, 2009). (Agenzia Fides 26/02/2010)