AFRICA/MOROCCO - Assembly of the Bishops of North Africa comes to an end

Tuesday, 16 January 2024 bishops   synod of bishops  

Rabat (Agenzia Fides) - The Bishops of the Regional Episcopal Conference dealt with the synodal process, a theological reflection on the life of the Churches of the Maghreb and the reception and implementation of the Declaration “Fiducia Supplicans” of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on the pastoral meaning of blessings. These are the topics discussed by the bishops of CERNA (Conference of Bishops of the North African Region) in their Assembly held from 11 to 15 January in Rabat (Morocco). As stated in the final statement sent to Fides, on this occasion the participants in the Assembly also visited the Ecumenical Theological Institute "al-Mowafaqa" in the Moroccan capital and appreciated its "efforts to provide its students with both a Catholic and a Protestant approach topics such as equality between North and South and equality between men and women, as well as the educational offer that has been available for ten years for pastoral agents of the Catholic and Protestant communities in Morocco and elsewhere". The year 2023, which has just ended, marked the churches and people of the CERNA region "by the earthquake in the Marrakesh region and the floods in Derna", but this did not stop the churches of North Africa from "expressing their solidarity with the churches of Turkey and Syria after the "earthquakes" that hit these countries, also financially. The members of CERNA took the joint initiative of fasting and prayer for peace at the beginning of Advent "in solidarity with the victims of the conflict in the Holy Land" and sent a letter of solidarity to Cardinal Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Regarding the Synod, the CERNA Bishops recall that "our dioceses have actively participated in the process. Their reflections led to the creation in August 2022 of an important regional text on the life of our Churches, their opinions and their questions, up to the "Sending a delegation from North Africa to the continental assembly in Addis Ababa in March 2023 and the participation of two of us in the World Synod in Rome in October 2023". Another topic discussed was the theological foundations of Christian life in the region. "A year ago, CERNA decided to set up a commission for theological reflection, involving a number of bishops and vicars general, but also lay people, nuns and priests from our countries," says the the statement. "The task of this commission was to compile and organize a repertoire of the theological and spiritual heritage of our churches over the last sixty years and to identify the important axes that have emerged in the regional synod and that are worthy of further study." The commission will continue to "provide tools for reflection in our communities. Collaborative work on liturgical issues could also be considered." Finally, with regard to the document “Fiducia Supplicans”, the CERNA Bishops "want to emphasize above all three fundamental positive aspects that are expressed in it: a clear confirmation of the Church's teaching on marriage and sexual morality; a confirmation also of the vision of one merciful God, whose love and grace are infinite and offered to all without distinction; a deeper understanding of the meaning of blessings, whose role is neither to ratify nor approve concrete situations experienced by people, but to implore God's help upon them". CERNA invites "our communities to take the time to read and discuss this document and the explanatory note published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on January 4, 2024 (...); and to avoid any polemics and to cultivate everything "which contributes to promoting the communion and unity of the universal Church". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/1/2024)