Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "Women and men, young and old, children, families and all of society: today all of Africa awaits the "ambassadors" of the Good News, the lay faithful from the parishes, ecclesial movements and new communities, enamoured of Christ and the Church, full of joy and gratitude for the Baptism they have received, courageous workers of peace and announcers of authentic hope". Is the exhortation the Holy Father Benedict XVI’s Message sent to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the occasion of the Pan African Congress for Catholic Laity, taking place at the Catholic University of Central Africa (UCAC) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from September 4 to 9 (see Fides 05/09/2012). The congress represents "a significant step forward to realize what the Holy Spirit inspired the Synod Fathers in the Second Special Assembly for Africa" whose fruits are gathered in the apostolic Exhortation Africae munus.
"During my travels in the Continent, I have stated on several occasions that Africa is called to be the Continent of hope," Benedict XVI continued, emphasizing that "at first sight Africa's problems appear serious and difficult to solve ", " Even the best traditional values of African culture are today threatened by secularization." The Pope, however, to look "at the heart of the African peoples" where "we discover a great wealth of spiritual resources, which are very valuable in our time. Love for life and the family, a sense of joy and of sharing, enthusiasm in living their faith in the Lord." The Pope urges: "Never let the dark mentality of relativism and nihilism, which affects various parts of your world, open a breach in your lives! With renewed energy accept and spread the message of joy and of hope which Christ brings." The Sudanese Saint Josephine Bakhita is then presented as a "witness of hope", "to show how the encounter with the God of Jesus Christ is able to profoundly transform every human being, even in the poorest conditions... it is Saint Bakhita’s experience, but also the experience that many young Africans - thanks be to God, the great majority of the population - are called to live today in the faithful following of the Lord. Making Africa the «Continent of Hope» " must be the goal that guides the mission of African lay faithful in today, just as it must guide the Congress you are celebrating."
Finally, the Pope recalls the forthcoming two ecclesial events of universal importance: the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization and the Year of Faith, and reiterates that "the mission arises from the faith, a gift of God which must be welcomed, nourished and developed ... the welcoming of this divine gift goes hand in hand with the enthusiasm for the proclamation of the Gospel, in a kind of 'virtuous circle ', where faith moves the announcement and the announcement strengthens the faith." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 06/09/2012)