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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Pope in Benin - 2 - Signing of Apostolic Exhortation 'Africae Munus'
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Pope in Benin -  2 - Signing of Apostolic Exhortation 'Africae Munus'  | Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Africae munus, Pope in Benin

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Ouidah
At midday on Saturday the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Ouidah. Inaugurated in 1909, it was the first cathedral in West Africa and the starting point for the evangelisation of the region.

On arrival the Pope was greeted by the rector of the basilica, who accompanied him in a moment of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Among those present were members of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod, whom Benedict XVI thanked for their help in collating the results of the Second Special Assembly for Africa in preparation for the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Africae munus'.

"Today, the celebration of the Synod concludes with the signing of the Exhortation 'Africae Munus'", he said. "The Synod gave an impetus to the Catholic Church in Africa, which prayed, reflected on and discussed the theme of reconciliation, justice and peace. This process was marked by a special closeness uniting the Successor of Peter and the particular Churches in Africa".

"The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops benefited from the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa' of Blessed John Paul II, which emphasised the urgent need to evangelise this continent, an activity which cannot be separated from the work of human promotion. The Exhortation also developed the concept of the Church as God's Family. This concept has borne many spiritual fruits for the Catholic Church and for the activity of evangelisation and human promotion which she has carried out in African society as a whole".

"Within this ecclesial horizon, the Second Special Assembly for Africa concentrated on the theme of reconciliation, justice and peace. These are important issues for the world in general, but they take on a particular urgency in Africa. We need but recall the tensions, the acts of violence, the wars, the injustices and abuses of all sorts, new and old, which have marked this year. The principal theme was that of reconciliation with God and with one's neighbour. But a Church reconciled within herself and among all her members can become a prophetic sign of reconciliation in society within each country and the continent as a whole".

"We must never give up the search for new paths of peace! ... To attain peace, we need to have courage and the reconciliation born of forgiveness, the will once more to live as one, to share a vision of the future and to persevere in overcoming difficulties. Men and women reconciled and at peace with God and neighbour can work for greater justice in society".

"Africa, land of a New Pentecost, put your trust in God! Impelled by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, become God's great family, generous with all your sons and daughters, agents of reconciliation, peace and justice! Africa, Good News for the Church, become Good News for the entire world!"

Having completed his address, the Pope signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation and imparted his blessing upon those present. He then boarded a car which took him forty-five kilometres from Ouidah to the apostolic nunciature in Cotonou.

Summary of 'Africae Munus'

Given below is a summary, prepared by Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, of the main ideas contained in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae munus".

The document has two parts. Part one (nos. 14-96) discerns the fundamental structures of the ecclesial mission on the continent, a mission which aspires to reconciliation, justice and peace, and has its origin in the person of Jesus Christ. Listening to Him, Christians are invited to let themselves be reconciled with God, becoming just in order to build a just social order in keeping with the logic of the Beatitudes, and committing themselves to fraternal service for love of truth, which is a source of peace. Attention then turns to the paths towards reconciliation, justice and
peace. These include authentic conversion, the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance, the spirituality of communion, the inculturation of the Gospel, the protection of life, migrants, displaced persons, refugees, the good governance of States, and ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue especially with traditional religions and Islam. In part two (nos. 97-177) all members of the Church are invited to contribute to communion and peace in the Church and in society. It also identifies areas for the apostolate: the Church as the presence of Christ, the world of education, health care and the communications media. The Exhortation opens a horizon of hope to Africa which, by welcoming Jesus Christ, must free itself from the forces which paralyze it.

'Africae munus' is the continuation of 'Ecclesia in Africa', which was published after the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops and gave great impetus to the growth of the Church in Africa developing, among other things, the idea of the Church as Family of God which has been beneficial to the universal Church. 'Africae munus' aims to reinforce this ecclesial dynamism, to outline a programme for pastoral activity for the coming decades of evangelisation in Africa, underlining the need for reconciliation, justice and peace.

The Church, Sacrament of union with God and man, must be a place of reconciliation, a gift of God, in order to be an effective tool of justice and peace for the whole of society. Reconciliation comes from the mystery of the risen Christ Who is present in His church through the Word of God and the Sacraments, especially those of Penance and the Eucharist. Through the grace of the Spirit, the Eucharist creates a new brotherhood which overcomes languages, cultures, ethnicities, divisions, tribalism, racism and ethnocentrism. In her work of evangelisation and education in the Christian
faith, the Church must concentrate on lived catechesis, which leads to profound conversion and to real commitment to live the Gospel at a personal, family and social level. The Social Doctrine of the Church is of great help in sustaining human development.

'Africae munus' offers the Church in Africa practical guidance for pastoral activity over coming decades.

- Evangelisation ad gentes, the announcement of the Gospel to those who still do not know Jesus Christ, is still of vital importance in Africa. It is a pastoral priority which involves all African Christians.

- Ordinary evangelisation must be increasingly promoted in the various particular Churches, through commitment to fostering reconciliation, justice and peace.

- There is also an urgent need to work for the new evangelisation in Africa, especially among people who have distanced themselves from the Church or who do not behave in a Christian fashion. African Christians, and in particular the clergy and consecrated persons, are likewise called to support new evangelisation in secularised nations. This is an exchange of gifts, because African missionaries are already at work in countries which once produced missionaries who went forth to announce the Good News in Africa.

Among the practical suggestions contained in Africae munus, we may note the following:

- Saints, people reconciled with God and neighbour, are exemplary heralds of justice and apostles of peace. The Church - all of whose members are called to sanctity - must discover fresh ardour, the ardour of the many saints and martyrs, confessors and virgins of the African continent, devotion to whom should be renewed and promoted (cf. AM 113).

- In order to find further examples of sanctity, also obtaining new intercessors in heaven, pastors of the particular Churches are encouraged 'to recognize among servants of the Gospel in Africa those who could be canonized according to the norms of the Church' (AM 114).

- The bonds of communion between the Holy Father and the bishops of Africa must be strengthened, as must the bonds among Africa bishops themselves, at the national, regional and continental level.

- It is considered important 'for the bishops to help support, effectively and affectively, the Symposium of Bishops' Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) as a continental structure of solidarity and ecclesial communion' (AM 107).

- For a deeper appreciation of the mystery of the Eucharist and to increase Eucharistic devotion, emphasis is given to the Synod Fathers' proposal to celebrate a continental Eucharistic Congress (cf. AM 153).

- African countries are encouraged to 'celebrate yearly 'a day or week of reconciliation, particularly during Advent or Lent'' (AM 157).

- In agreement with the Holy See, SECAM may contribute to promoting 'a continent-wide Year of Reconciliation to beg of God special forgiveness for all the evils and injuries mutually inflicted in Africa, and for the reconciliation of persons and groups who have been hurt in the Church and in the whole of society' (AM 157).

Grateful for the gift of faith in the One Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with renewed enthusiasm the Church in Africa reaffirms her commitment to evangelisation and human development, so that the entire continent may become a vast field of reconciliation, justice and peace. In this way, the Church contributes to forging the new Africa, which is increasingly called to become the 'spiritual lung' of humankind'.

Source: VIS

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Tags: Africae munus, Pope in Benin, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation


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