Vatican: African Synod opens

The Second Special Assembly for Africa, due to be held in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October opens on Sunday.

The theme of the Assembly is related to that of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa", which brought together the results of the First Special Assembly for Africa held from 10 April to 8 May 1994 on the theme: "The Church in Africa and her evangelizing mission towards the Year 2000: 'You shall be my witnesses'".

 At a press briefing on Friday Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, said: "The Church in Africa is very dynamic. From 1978 to 2007, the number of African Catholics rose from 55 million to 146 million. Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life also saw a notable growth in numbers".

However, he also recalled the fact that "521 pastoral workers were killed in Africa between 1994 and 2008. ... In the year 2008, for example, of twenty Catholic pastoral workers killed throughout the world, five were African: three priests, one religious and one lay volunteer, from Kenya, Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo".

This Second Special Assembly for Africa will be attended "by 244 Synod Fathers of whom 228 are bishops", said Archbishop Eterovic. Most of the Synod Fathers (197) are from Africa while the remaining 47 come from Europe (34), America (10), Asia (2) and Oceania (1).

The sessions of the Synod will also be attended by fraternal delegates: representatives of six other Churches and ecclesial communities with a significant presence in Africa and with whom the Catholic Church maintains close ties of dialogue and collaboration.

Also present will be "29 experts, 19 men and 10 women, and 49 observers, 29 men and 20 women", said the archbishop, noting that "three special guests will also participate in the event, at the invitation of the Pope": On Tuesday 6 October His Holiness Abuna Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, will participate in the Third General Congregation; on Friday 9 October Mr Rudolf Adada, former head of the Joint United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission for Darfur will be reporting on the efforts for peace in that region "which is of interest not only to African countries but to the whole world"; finally, on Monday 12 October the Synod Fathers will be addressed by Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on efforts the FAO is making to ensure food security for Africa.

Source: VIS

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