Karonga (Agenzia Fides) - After having presided at the consecration of the Cathedral of Karonga (see Fides 05/11/2016), in the afternoon of Saturday, November 5, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, met the Bishops of Malawi. "I am well aware of the challenges facing your beloved Country at this time - said the Cardinal in his speech -: the food crisis caused by drought in the North and flooding in the South, the economic challenges caused by these same occurrences as well as by other factors, the resulting poverty felt by many, and the lack of social services for people, many who suffer from all sorts of ailments, not the least of which is HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, I am also aware of the good work carried out by the Church in these times of need".
The Prefect of the Missionary Congregation indicated the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaiudim" as "a valuable document, because it represents the vision of Pope Francis for the Church in the coming years", and recalled what the Pope himself said to the Bishops of Malawi on the occasion of their Ad limina visit in 2014. He then mentioned two recent anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the conciliar Decree Ad Gentes, on the missionary activity of the Church, "a document which remains valid still today" and the Centenary of the evangelization of Malawi, in 2001: "today we remember with grateful hearts so many blessed years since the first evangelization took place here".
Focusing on the current missionary commitment, Cardinal Filoni stressed that "the Bishop, as head and center of the diocesan apostolate, must promote, direct and coordinate missionary activity, as well as encourage all the members of the People of God to participate in the work of evangelization". Without doubt "the path of evangelization is not easy", he said, urging the Bishops to draw from the example of the African Martyrs "who witnessed to hope and the Mercy of God through the exercise of kindness, patience and fortitude, even when faced with the pain of torture and death".
The Prefect of the Missionary Congregation offered a few additional words of encouragement to the Bishops of Malawi, urging them to seek "creative ways to integrate local, civil and social realities and draw together the strengths of the persons and groups that make up the Church, so as to effectively coordinate the work of evangelization, which is the primarily role of your Episcopal Conference". He then highlighted the promotion of vocations to the priesthood, assisting with the good discernment of candidates through the generous support of Seminaries. Finally, he invited the Bishops to "always strive to love with a fatherly and brotherly love all those whom God entrusts them", with special attention to priests. "Support the religious so generously serving in your Diocese with prayers, remuneration and respect for their proper autonomy – he continued -. Also, I encourage you to remain always present and available to the lay faithful, who are an integral part in the work of evangelization in Malawi".
Finally the Cardinal Prefect expressed his appreciation to the Bishops, on behalf of Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, "for your hard work and dedicated service in our shared mission of evangelization, for your generosity in pastoral work and for your praiseworthy communion with the Holy Father". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 07/11/2016)