Kampala (Agenzia Fides) - In the second appointment this morning in Kampala, where the celebrations of the Jubilee of the Archdiocese are about to conclude, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, met with priests, religious men and women and seminarians at Ggaba National Major Seminary. His speech touched three main themes: missionary renewal, ecclesial communion, and ongoing formation.
"Personal and ecclesial renewal is one of the primary objectives of any Jubilee celebration", said Cardinal, who emphasized: "You are the heirs of the great work of evangelization accomplished by Missionaries. Today this work is in your hands". Recalling that in Kampala Pope Paul VI pronounced the famous statement addressing the entire Church in Africa "Africans, be the missionaries to yourselves", the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said: "Certainly, the Church in Africa has already done a lot in this regard, but she can still do better. There is still much to be done about the missionary spirit, especially toward the peoples in Africa. I am saying this because I see that some priests would willingly go as missionaries to Europe or to the United States, but they wouldn’t be equally ready to go on mission to some difficult and needy places in the same country of origin, or within Africa".
"The true missionary spirit is required also in regard to existential peripheries within your pastoral areas", the Cardinal said, "evangelization is done not only within the walls of a church or a school but on the streets; we have to go to where people are, bringing the gospel into the forgotten areas of life, the “existential peripheries” of our parishes and towns, on the highways and byways of this country, where so many people are waiting to experience the Good News and God’s mercy. The Church does not need bureaucrats, but passionate missionaries".
Reflecting on the theme of ecclesial communion, the Prefect also emphasized that "on a practical level, ecclesial communion is expressed in the attachment and fidelity to the Roman Pontiff, the centre of unity and the bond of universal communion, so also to the Bishop, the father and guide of the particular Church. There can be no genuine priestly ministry except in communion with the Pope and with one’s own diocesan Bishop".
He then recalled that the people of Uganda are known for their sense of hierarchy, and "it is sometimes surprising to hear some cases which are a total betrayal of this praiseworthy culture".
Along with defiance and lack of fidelity to one’s legitimate superiors, there is also the problem of deep superficiality and spiritual worldliness as remote causes of disunity and infighting. Spiritual worldliness leads some priests and religious (men and women) to war with anyone who stands in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure and economic security. "Such cases are a clear sign that those involved have lost all sense of prayer, including that minimum that the Church expects daily from them, and instead invent their own Gospel based on popularity, instant gratification, money, prestige of having friends in high places, the popularity of resisting directives and decisions from their Bishops that are not in accord with their preferences".
A last aspect that undermines ecclesial communion is given by ethnic and tribal sentiments: "I urge you to remember dear priests and religious men and women, that your witness to living together in peace, over ethnic and tribal lines, has tremendous impact on your ministry - recommended the Prefect -. People want to see that you love and respect each other; that you work as a team".
Finally, Cardinal Filoni reaffirmed the importance and indispensability of ongoing formation as a means of personal renewal. This is an issue of vital importance both for the life and for the exercise of the ministry as priests and religious, an expression of fidelity to their vocation and mission, an act of love for the people of God: "It is important that the faithful should be able to encounter priests as well as religious men and women who are really men of God, men of prayer, suitably mature and well formed". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 27/10/2017)