Rabat (Agenzia Fides) – The meeting of the CERN (the Episcopal Conférence Régionale de l'Afrique du Nord), which was held in Rabat (Morocco) April 20 to 24 (see Fides 04/16/2010) has brought about a fruitful exchange on the situation of countries and Churches of the region, said a statement sent to Fides. Notwithstanding the diversity of situations in which everyone lives and works, it was found that the participants in the encounter were united by a desire to serve the Catholic communities entrusted to them, according to the religious freedom recognized by the States.
The Bishops of North Africa are working together in ecumenical collaboration with the other Christian Churches that are recognized, living and working – without any spirit of proselytizing – with the people, mostly Muslims, who receive them and with whom they have formed bonds of friendship.
The bishops stressed the solidarity experienced as serving the less fortunate, in collaboration with associations of civil society in the Maghreb countries.
They also reflected on the role of libraries made available to students in every diocese, as meeting places and places for cultural dialogue. They also gave indications of how this work can continue.
The four CERNA delegates to the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops reported on the conclusions of the Synod and showed the focus by the Synod Fathers on the links between the Maghreb and the entire African continent.
The members of CERNA who participated in the preparatory work of the Synod for the Middle East, to be held in October, looked at ways to facilitate the arrival of religious from the Middle East to participate in the organization of the North African Christian communities. They also hoped that the Synod may be a support to the Churches of the Middle East and become an invitation to local governments, asking that they ensure the rights of all their citizens.
The meeting of the CERNA has also addressed the issue of migrants "in an irregular situation," especially women and children who are particularly vulnerable to such a point that many of them are subjected to an "intolerable exploitation." "Faced with this problem, which requires much more attention from the community of nations, members of CERNA have exchanged views on humanitarian assistance and pastoral support which would be modest but very concrete, in the spirit of the Gospel and according to the teachings of the Church."
The next meeting of CERNA will be held in Algiers from January 29 to February 3, 2011, during which a theological document, on the presence of the Church in North African countries, will be approved. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 04/24/2010)