AFRICA - "No to violence and yes to peace": appeal by African Bishops a year after Pope Francis' visit

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - Peace, Hope and Reconciliation. These are the key words of the visit made by Pope Francis a year ago in Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, from 4 to 10 September 2019 (see Fides, 4/9/2019), recalls the message published for the anniversary by the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM/SCEAM).
"For Pope Francis, everything is lost with war and everything is gained with peace. He said: "With war, many men, women and children suffer because they have no home to live in, no food, no schools to educate themselves, hospitals to treat their health, Churches to meet for prayer and fields to employ the labour force. Many thousands of people are forced to move in search of security and the means to survive...No to violence and yes to peace!", says the message sent to Fides.
For the Holy Father - continues the message - peace is not only the absence of war but the tireless commitment - especially of those in a position of greater responsibility - to recognise, guarantee and concretely rebuild the dignity, so often forgotten or ignored, of our brothers and sisters, so that they can feel that they are the main protagonists of the destiny of their nation and continent".
The African Bishops recall that "Pope Francis insisted that in order to make reconciliation possible it is necessary to overcome times of division and violence, of xenophobia and tribalism. In this connection, we need to take up the challenge of welcoming and protecting migrants who arrive in search of work and in search of better living conditions for their families, of defending the ecumenical and interreligious meetings and finding ways to promote collaboration among all – Christians, traditional religions, Muslims – for a better future for Africa".
"A year has passed since the memorable visit of Pope Francis to Africa. Indeed, the warmth of his presence and the richness of his messages are still felt by good-hearted people. Nevertheless, brutal acts of violence are still being witnessed in different African Countries, including one of those the Holy Father visited last year (Mozambique)", reads the conclusion. "In an address to the people of the Country on the occasion of the first anniversary of the historic visit, the Bishops of Mozambique said: "The Holy Father has left us a message of encouragement, animation and guidance for our present situation. This message requires of us a strong, continuous and renewed commitment towards its realisation".
"Therefore, we hereby repeat the call of Pope Francis that; all of us must continuously say ‘no to violence and yes to peace’; all must join hands to end poverty and all must be actively involved in caring for our common home. We thank Pope Francis, messenger of hope, herald of peace and advocate of reconciliation", concludes the message. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/9/2020)