Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - "As AMECEA Bishops, we are saddened by the reality of the dissonance of the Christian faith and Gospel values among our Christians vis a vis all actions that undermine vibrant diversity, equal dignity, peaceful unity and integral human development. Mindful of the negative response to the gospel values we see the need of re-evangelization. The re-evangelization must be based on communion with God, must purify and evangelize culture and hence requires new methods and digital means". This is the concluding point of the communiqué of the XIX Plenary Assembly of the AMECEA, held in Addis Abbeba from 13 to 23 July. The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), gathers the Episcopal Conferences of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan/South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and the affiliate members of Djibouti and Somalia (see Fides 16,17,18/7/2018).
In the final communiqué, addressed "To the family of God in AMECEA region and all people of good will", the Bishops say they are "determined and inspired to forge ahead with confidence and solidarity towards addressing pastoral and social issues of common concern in our region". They then quote a series of themes, starting from the diversity that characterizes the AMECEA region, recognizing "this diversity as a positive thing to be cherished and not to cause divisions. As Shepherds, we therefore, strongly condemn any form of manipulation of differences in our region that undermines the dignity of the human person...we strongly condemn negative ethnic diversity that divides our societies".
Reaffirming what the Second Vatican Council affirms, the Bishops "appeal to all Catholics and people of good will to promote, defend and uphold the equal human dignity of each and every person created in the image of God. Consequently, socio-economic, political and cultural development in the society is intrinsically connected to human dignity". However, integral human development must not be limited to mere economic aspect alone, but "in order to be authentic, it must first focus on the human person, should be holistic and cover all aspects of life of the human person and geared towards the common good".
They therefore express their joy for the steps taken towards peace and dialogue by Ethiopia and Eritrea: "as this process of reconciliation continues, the Catholic Church urges the stakeholders to ensure that justice and peace are restored and let the peoples of these countries be involved in the process, their voices heard and captives return to their families. The steps taken by the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea show that Africans have the wisdom to solve their own problems amicably". Hearts are also gladdened by the progress in the South Sudan peace talks: "We continue praying for the quick resolution of the conflict so as to alleviate the suffering of the people and end the loss of innocent lives".
Aware of the critical position of the family as the smallest unit of the Church and society, subjected to so many challenges, the Bishops reaffirm their support for formation and pastoral care of families at all levels.
A paragraph of the document is dedicated to digital media: "Aware of the very positive steps taken towards evangelizing through mass media, we commend efforts made to invest on creation of interactive Catholic content in diocesan and parish websites as well as social media platforms, catholic radios, televisions and newspapers as a means of evangelization... At the same time, recognizing the role of the media in the process of integral human development we exhort media practitioners to be responsible, credible and accurate in providing information to society".
Particular attention must then be paid to young people, environment and collaboration with agencies of integral human development. Recognizing that the AMECEA region "is a home to many migrants, internally displaced persons and refugees" due to "lack of respect for diversity, human rights and inclusive economic development", the Bishops support "Pope Francis’ pastoral initiatives and ministry to migrants and refugees and their concerns".
The final part underlines the urgency of setting up Catholic universities and institutes of higher learning, of forming lay people in order to prepare them to become leaders of integrity in the society in the face of rampant corruption, of ensuring the protection of minors in all the structures run by the Church. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 26/7/2018)