Marseille (Agenzia Fides) - "At the heart of our meeting was the approach of looking at our reality through the lens of our belonging to the Mediterranean region, where three continents meet", declared the members of the Bishops' Conference of the North African Region (CERNA) at the end of their assembly, which took place on 10th to 15th January in Marseille.
In their final communiqué, presented to Fides, the bishops emphasize that "above all, it was a great joy that everyone was able to be present: that hasn't happened for a long time". "We came from Algiers, Benghazi, Constantine, Laayoune, Laghouat, Oran, Rabat, Tangier, Tripoli and Tunis. The Apostolic Nunciature in Morocco, which accompanies our conference, was represented by its first Advisory Council".
“Fathers Christian Salenson and Alexis Leproux led the reflections on spiritual and theological renewal at the beginning of the meeting. Their reflections have inspired us, in the spirit of our vocation to catholicity and to dialogue about salvation, the purpose of which is for everyone to have life in abundance”, say the North African Bishops.
We then "assessed the situation of our region and of our dioceses, in particular on the reality of the new disciples. The theological commission set up this year was given the task of deepening the synodal document that our conference prepared at the end of the diocesan phase of the Synod has worked out on synodality," the statement reads.
Recalling the words pronounced by Pope Francis on December 5, 2021 in Lesvos about the Mediterranean Sea ("On the shores of this sea God became man..."), the members of CERNA stress the need "in a dynamic of of fraternal sharing and dialogue".
The choice of Marseille as the place for the assembly of bishops active in North Africa was not accidental. "This city is shaped by its geography, its history, its demographics and its diocesan orientation from the perspective of dialogue. That is why we have chosen to meet here this year and work with Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline," the bishops emphasize
"The Mediterranean is leading our churches to understand together how their minority situation and fragility can also be a source of fruitfulness", underlines CERNA. "Following the meetings of the Mediterranean bishops that took place in Bari (2020) and Florence (2022), the meeting planned for next autumn, also in Marseille, seems to us to be an important step".
"Our reflections took place in the shrine of Notre-Dame de la Garde, to which we have entrusted the joys and sorrows of our countries and the Mediterranean region, marked by migration, conflicts and forms of instability. The prayers that rise from this shrine join those of other Shrines in the Mediterranean", reads the communiqué, which recalls that "the CERNA Assembly continues to work regularly via videoconference and will meet again in Rabat in a year's time". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/1/2023)