Monday, 16 June 2003

Abidjan (Fides Service) – To promote national reconciliation and continue on the path of evangelisation: these were the main topics discussed by the 76th plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ivory Coast meeting in Yopoungon 9-15 June. At a time when the country is trying to find a way out of the spiral of civil war, the Church does not shirk her pastoral responsibilities. “I have no political, economic or social power, but what I have I offer you”: this, in brief, is the task of the Church according to Nuncio Archbishop Mario Zenari. Addressing the Bishops’ Conference the Papal representative in Ivory Coast quoted St Peter who said to the beggar at the door of the Temple in Jerusalem: “I have neither gold nor silver but what I have I give to you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth: arise and walk!”
And it is precisely the Church’s charitable activity during the civil war which was highlighted by Archbishop Vital Komenan Yao of Bouake, President of the Bishops’ Conference, in his opening address. Greeting the Church in Yopoungon, which gave the plenary participants a warm welcome, the Archbishop recalls the “assistance and shelter offered to thousands displaced by the tragic events our country has been living after the 18 and 19 September 2002. With inestimable and unlimited generosity you have welcomed, assisted, cared for, fed and consoled so many of our brothers and sisters forced to become refugees without hope in their own country”.
For his part hosting Bishop Mandjo of Yopoungon recalled that the path towards peace is studded with difficulties but this do not prevent the Church from continuing her work to promote reconciliation. “Allow me to recall that two years ago we met at this same time, in this same place to reflect on the process of national reconciliation in our country and how to Church could contribute in this regard. At that time our faith in God, our love for people and our hope for a better future for our country, led us to make a commitment for promoting national unity. Sad to say, we were dreaming! Today after the infernal cycle of armed conflict we are obliged to start all over again to prevent chaos. For the good of all, the language and the culture of peace must prevail over hatred and violence. LM (Fides Service 16/6/2003 EM lines 34 Words: 452)

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