Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) - The formation of priests was the focus of the 49th Assembly of Bishops of the Congo, from October 12 to 18, 2020 in Brazzaville, to reflect on vocation and priestly formation, with the theme: "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). The works took place under the presidency of His Exc. Mgr. Daniel Mizonzo, Bishop of Nkayi, President of the Bishops' Conference of Congo (CEC).
Among the reports presented during the Assembly, that of Fr. Alexis Tobangui, parish priest of Saint Jean-Baptiste de Talangaï parish, focused on the "priestly vocation today, in the world and in Congo: sociological aspect", deepening the evolution of the perception of vocation in the social history of the Catholic Church. In Africa, on the occasion of the publication of the Statistical Yearbook of the Holy See, the number of priests in the Catholic Church increased by 80%, that of nuns by 60% and that of seminarians quadrupled. It is about serving God and Christ, saving souls, but in Africa some also believe that a vocation can be a means of social advancement. Father Tobangui explained his observations based on a paper published in June 1987 by Cardinal Joseph Malula, Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which a critical portrait of the young priests of his country is traced. In particular, Cardinal Malula deplored three major tendencies of the new priestly generation: the exaggerated search for money, the easy life, the thirst for power. These criticisms are still relevant in our dioceses in Congo.
At the end of the works, Mgr. Daniel Mizonzo highlighted that the various presentations made by the speakers were rich in content. Emphasis will have to be placed on human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation in order to have authentic priests in the future who correspond to the concerns of the Church. But above all, a work of listening and discernment must be carried out in the parishes, establishing a commission to accompany seminarians, which is also extended to the laity (parish pastoral councils). (P.B.K.) (Agenzia Fides, 30/10/2020)