Speeches 2005-13 18211

WELCOME CEREMONY Cardinal Bernardin Gantin International Airport, Cotonou Friday, 18 November 2011

Mr President,
Your Eminence,
Dear President of the Episcopal Conference of Benin,
Civil, Ecclesiastical and Religious Authorities,
Dear Friends,

I thank you, Mr President, for the warm words of welcome. You know well the affection which I have for your continent and for your country. I was eager to return to Africa, and a threefold motivation has provided the occasion for this Apostolic Journey. First and foremost, Mr President, is your kind invitation to visit your country. Your initiative was received along with that of the Episcopal Conference of Benin. These are auspicious, since they come during the year in which Benin celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, as well the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of her evangelization. While among you, I will have the occasion to meet many people, and I look forward to it. Each of these experiences will be different, and will culminate in the Eucharist which I will celebrate before I leave.

This Apostolic Journey also fulfils my desire to bring back to African soil the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus.Its reflections will guide the pastoral activities of numerous Christian communities in the coming years. May this document fall into the ground and take root, grow and bear much fruit “in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty”, as we hear in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (
Mt 13,23).

Additionally, there exists a third reason which is more personal and more emotive. I have long held in high esteem a son of this country, His Eminence Cardinal Bernardin Gantin. For many years, we both worked, each according to his proper competence, labouring in the same vineyard. We both happily assisted my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, in the exercise of his Petrine ministry. We had many occasions to meet, to engage in profound discussions and to pray together. Cardinal Gantin won the respect and the affection of many. So it seemed right that I should come to his country of origin, to pray before his tomb, and to thank Benin for having given the Church such a distinguished son.

Benin is a country of ancient and noble traditions. Her history is significant. I am pleased to take this opportunity to greet the traditional Chiefs. Their contribution is important in the construction of the country’s future. I would like to encourage them to contribute, with their wisdom and understanding of local customs, in the delicate transition currently under way from tradition to modernity.

Modernity need not provoke fear, but neither can it be constructed by neglecting the past. It needs to be accompanied by prudence for the good of all in order to avoid the pitfalls which exist on the African continent and elsewhere, such as unconditional surrender to the law of the market or that of finance, nationalism or exaggerated and sterile tribalism which can become destructive, a politicization of interreligious tensions to the detriment of the common good, or finally the erosion of human, cultural, ethical and religious values. The transition to modernity must be guided by sure criteria based on recognized virtues, which are listed in your national motto, but equally which are firmly rooted in the dignity of the person, the importance of the family and respect for life. All of these values exist in view of the common good which must take first place, and which must constitute the primary concern of all in positions of responsibility. God trusts in man and desires his good. It is our task to respond, in honesty and justice, to his high expectations.

The Church, for her part, offers her own specific contribution. By her presence, her prayer and her various works of mercy, especially in education and health care, she wishes to give her best to everyone. She wants to be close to those who are in need, near to those who search for God. She wants to make it understood that God is neither absent nor irrelevant as some would have us believe but that he is the friend of man. It is in this spirit of friendship and of fraternity that I come to your country, Mr President.

in Fon: May God bless Benin!



Your Eminences,
Most Reverend Archbishop and Dear Brother Bishops,
Reverend Father Rector of the Cathedral,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The ancient hymn, the Te Deum, which we have just sung, expresses our praise to the thrice-holy God who gathers us in this beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of Mercy. We pay homage as well to the former Archbishops who are buried here: Archbishop Christoph Adimou and Archbishop Isidore de Sousa. They were heroic workers in the vineyard of the Lord, and their memory lives on in the hearts of Catholics and innumerable other citizens of Benin. These two Bishops were, each in his own way, pastors full of zeal and charity. They spent themselves, without counting the cost, in the service of the Gospel and of the people of God, especially the most vulnerable. You know well that Archbishop de Sousa was a friend of the truth and that he played a decisive role in your country’s transition to democracy.

As we praise God for the marvels which he never ceases to bestow upon humanity, I invite you to meditate for a moment on his infinite mercy. The history of salvation, which culminates in the incarnation of Jesus and finds its fulfilment in the Paschal Mystery, is a radiant revelation of the mercy of God. In the Son, the “Father of mercies” (
2Co 1,3) is made visible; ever faithful to his fatherhood, he “leans down to each prodigal child, to each human misery, and above all to their moral misery, to their sins” (John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia DM 6). Divine mercy consists not only in the remission of our sins; it also consists in the fact that God, our Father, redirects us, sometimes not without pain, affliction or fear on our part, to the path of truth and light, for he does not wish us to be lost (cf. Mt 18,14 Jn 3,16). This double expression of divine mercy shows how faithful God is to the covenant sealed with each Christian in his or her baptism. Looking back upon the personal history of each individual and of the evangelization of our countries, we can say together with the Psalmist, “I will sing of thy steadfast love, O Lord, for ever” (Ps 88,1).

The Virgin Mary experienced to the highest degree the mystery of divine love: “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lc 1,50), she exclaimed in her Magnificat. By her yes to the call of God, she contributed to the manifestation of divine love in the midst of humanity. In this sense, she is the Mother of Mercy by her participation in the mission of her Son: she has received the privilege of being our helper always and everywhere. “By her manifold intercession, she continues to procure the gifts which assure our eternal salvation. By her motherly love, she cares for her Son’s sisters and brothers who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home” (Lumen Gentium LG 62). Under the shelter of her mercy, deadened hearts are healed, the snares of the devil are thwarted and enemies are reconciled. In Mary, we have not only a model of perfection, but also one who helps us to realize communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. As Mother of Mercy, she is a sure guide to the disciples of her son who wish to be of service to justice, to reconciliation and to peace. She shows us, with simplicity and with a mother’s heart, the one Light and Truth: her Son, Jesus Christ who leads humanity to its full realization in the Father. Let us not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces:

O Mother of Mercy,
We salute you, Mother of the Redeemer;
We salute you, Glorious Virgin;
We salute you, our Queen!

O Queen of Hope,
Show us the face of your divine Son;
Guide us along the way of holiness;
Give us the joy of those who say Yes to God!

O Queen of Peace,
Fulfil the most noble aspirations of the young people of Africa;
Fill the hearts of those who thirst for justice, for peace and for reconciliation;
Fulfil the hopes of children, victims of hunger and of war!

O Queen of Peace,
Obtain for us a filial and fraternal love;
Grant that we may be friends of the poor and the little ones;
Obtain for the peoples of the earth a spirit of brotherhood!

Our Lady of Africa,
Obtain from your divine Son healing for the sick, consolation for the afflicted, pardon for sinners;
Intercede for Africa before your divine Son,
And obtain for all of humanity salvation and peace!




Mr President,
Distinguished civil, political and religious authorities,
Distinguished heads of the diplomatic missions,
Dear Brother Bishops, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

[Solemn greeting in Fon] DOO NOUMI!

Mr President, you have given me the opportunity of this encounter with this distinguished gathering of personalities. I appreciate this privilege, and I offer you my heartfelt thanks for the kind words which you have just expressed to me in the name of all the people of Benin. I also thank the representative of the institutions present for her words of welcome. Allow me to express my best wishes for all of you who are among the foremost protagonists, in various ways, of Benin’s national life.

Speaking on other occasions, I have often joined the word hope to the word Africa. I did so in Luanda two years ago as well as in reference to the Synod. The word hope is also found several times in the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus which I am shortly going to sign. When I say that Africa is a continent of hope, I am not indulging in mere rhetoric, but simply expressing a personal conviction which is also that of the Church. Too often, our mind is blocked by prejudices or by images which give a negative impression of the realities of Africa, the fruit of a bleak analysis. It is tempting to point to what does not work; it is easy to assume the judgemental tone of the moralizer or of the expert who imposes his conclusions and proposes, at the end of the day, few useful solutions. It is also tempting to analyze the realities of Africa like a curious ethnologist or like someone who sees the vast resources only in terms of energy, minerals, agriculture and humanity easily exploited for often dubious ends. These are reductionist and disrespectful points of view which lead to the unhelpful “objectification” of Africa and her inhabitants.

I am aware that words do not always mean the same thing everywhere; but the meaning of hope differs little from culture to culture. A few years have now passed since I dedicated an encyclical letter to Christian hope. To talk of hope is to talk of the future and hence of God! The future has its roots in the past and in the present. The past we know well, regretting its failures and acknowledging its successes. The present we live as well as we can, I hope, for the best with God’s help! It is upon this mixture of many contradictory and complementary elements that we must build with the help of God.

Dear friends, in the light of this experience which ought to encourage us, I would like to mention two current African realities. The first relates in a general way to the socio-political and economic life of the continent, the second to interreligious dialogue. These realities concern all of us, because this century seems to be coming into being painfully and to struggle to make hope grow in these two particular domains.

During recent months, many peoples have manifested their desire for liberty, their need for material security, and their wish to live in harmony according to their different ethnic groups and religions. Indeed, a new state has been born on your continent. Many conflicts have originated in man's blindness, in his will to power and in political and economic interests which mock the dignity of people and of nature. Human beings aspire to liberty; then to live in dignity; they want good schools and food for their children, dignified hospitals to take care of the sick; they want to be respected; they demand transparent governance which does not confuse private and public interests; and above all they desire peace and justice. At this time, there are too many scandals and injustices, too much corruption and greed, too many errors and lies, too much violence which leads to misery and to death. These ills certainly afflict your continent, but they also afflict the rest of the world. Every people wishes to understand the political and economic choices which are made in its name. They perceive manipulation and their revenge is sometimes violent. They wish to participate in good governance. We know that no political regime is ideal and that no economic choice is neutral. But these must always serve the common good. Hence we are faced with legitimate demands, present in all countries, for greater dignity and above all for greater humanity. Man demands that his humanity be respected and promoted. Political and economic leaders of countries find themselves placed before important decisions and choices which they can no longer avoid.

From this place, I launch an appeal to all political and economic leaders of African countries and the rest of the world. Do not deprive your peoples of hope! Do not cut them off from their future by mutilating their present! Adopt a courageous ethical approach to your responsibilities and, if you are believers, ask God to grant you wisdom! This wisdom will help you to understand that, as promoters of your peoples’ future, you must become true servants of hope. It is not easy to live the life of a servant, to remain consistent amid the currents of opinion and powerful interests. Power, such as it is, easily blinds, above all when private, family, ethnic or religious interests are at stake. God alone purifies hearts and intentions.

The Church does not propose any technical solution and does not impose any political solution. She repeats: do not be afraid! Humanity is not alone before the challenges of the world. God is present. There is a message of hope, hope which generates energy, which stimulates the intellect and gives the will all its dynamism. A former Archbishop of Toulouse, Cardinal Saliège, once said: "to hope is never to abandon; it is to redouble one's activity". The Church accompanies the State and its mission; she wishes to be like the soul of our body untiringly pointing to what is essential: God and man. She wishes to accomplish, openly and without fear, the immense task of one who educates and cares, but above all who prays without ceasing (cf.
Lc 18,1), who points to God (cf. Mt 6,21) and to where the authentic man is to be found (cf. Mt Mt 20,26, Jn 19:5). Despair is individualistic. Hope is communion. Is not this a wonderful path that is placed before us? I ask all political and economic leaders, as well those of the university and cultural realms to join it. May you also be sowers of hope!

I would now like to touch upon the second point, that of interreligious dialogue. I do not think it is necessary to recall the recent conflicts born in the name of God, or deaths brought about in the name of him who is life. Everyone of good sense understands that a serene and respectful dialogue about cultural and religious differences must be promoted. True interreligious dialogue rejects humanly self-centred truth, because the one and only truth is in God. God is Truth. Hence, no religion, and no culture may justify appeal or recourse to intolerance and violence. Aggression is an outmoded relational form which appeals to superficial and ignoble instincts. To use the revealed word, the Sacred Scriptures or the name of God to justify our interests, our easy and convenient policies or our violence, is a very grave fault.

I can only come to a knowledge of the other if I know myself. I cannot love unless I love myself (cf. Mt 22,39). Knowledge, deeper understanding and practice of one's religion, are therefore essential to true interreligious dialogue. This can only begin by sincere personal prayer on the part of the one who desires to dialogue. Let him go in secret to his private room (cf. Mt 6,6) to ask God for the purification of reason and to seek his blessing upon the desired encounter. This prayer also asks God for the gift to see in the other a brother to be loved and, within his tradition, a reflection of the truth which illumines all people (Nostra Aetate NAE 2). Everyone ought therefore to place himself in truth before God and before the other. This truth does not exclude and it is not confusion. Interreligious dialogue when badly understood leads to muddled thinking or to syncretism. This is not the dialogue which is sought.

Despite the steps already taken, we know that sometimes interreligious dialogue is not easy or that it is impeded for various reasons. This does not necessarily indicate failure. There are many forms of interreligious dialogue. Cooperation in social or cultural areas can help people to understand each other better and to live together serenely. It is also useful to know that dialogue does not take place through weakness; we enter into dialogue because we believe in God, the Creator and Father of all people. Dialogue is another way of loving God and our neighbour out of love for the truth (cf. Mt 22,37).

Having hope does not mean being ingenuous but making an act of faith in God, the Lord of history, and the Lord of our future. Thus the Catholic Church puts into action one of the intuitions of the Second Vatican Council, that of promoting friendly relations between herself and the members of non-Christian religions. For decades now, the Pontifical Council dedicated to this task has been creating links, holding meetings and publishing documents regularly in order to foster such a dialogue. In this way the Church strives to overcome the confusion of languages and the dispersal of hearts born of the sin of Babel (cf. Gen Gn 11). I greet all religious leaders who have kindly come here to meet me. I would like to assure them, as well as those from other African countries, that the dialogue offered by the Catholic Church comes from the heart. I encourage them to promote, above all among the young people, a pedagogy of dialogue, so that they may discover that our conscience is a sanctuary to be respected and that our spiritual dimension builds fraternity. True faith leads invariably to love. It is in this spirit that I invite all of you to hope.

These general ideas may be applied especially to Africa. In your continent, there are many families whose members profess different beliefs, and yet these families remain united. This is not just a unity wished by culture, but it is a unity cemented by a fraternal affection. Sometimes, of course, there are failures, but there are also many successes. In this area, Africa can offer all of us food for thought and thus become a source of hope.

To finish, I would like to use the image of a hand. There are five fingers on it and each one is quite different. Each one is also essential and their unity makes a hand. A good understanding between cultures, consideration for each other which is not condescending, and the respect of the rights of each one are a vital duty. This must be taught to all the faithful of the various religions. Hatred is a failure, indifference is an impasse, and dialogue is an openness! Is this not good ground in which seeds of hope may be sown? To offer someone your hand means to hope, later, to love, and what could be more beautiful than a proffered hand? It was willed by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to care and to help live. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hand too can become an instrument of dialogue. It can make hope flourish, above all when our intelligence stammers and our heart stumbles.

According to Sacred Scripture, three symbols describe the hope of Christians: the helmet, because it protects us from discouragement (cf. 1Th 5,8), the anchor, sure and solid, which ties us to God (cf. He 6,19), and the lamp which permits us to await the dawn of a new day (cf. Lc 12,35-36). To be afraid, to doubt and to fear, to live in the present without God, or to have nothing to hope for, these are all attitudes which are foreign to the Christian faith (St John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on the Letter to the Rm 6 C) and, I am convinced, to all other forms of belief in God. Faith lives in the present, but it awaits future goods. God is in our present, but he is also in the future, a place of hope. The expansion of our hearts is not only hope in God but also an opening to and care for physical and temporal realities in order to glorify God. Following Peter, of whom I am a successor, I hope that your faith and hope will be in God (cf. 1P 1,21). This is my wish for the whole of Africa, which is so dear to me! Africa, be confident and rise up! The Lord is calling you. May God bless you! Thank you.

MEETING WITH PRIESTS, SEMINARIANS, MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS AND LAY FAITHFUL Courtyard of St Gall Seminary - Ouidah Saturday, 19 November 2011

Your Eminence,
Bishop N’Koué, responsible for priestly formation,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear men and women religious,
Dear seminarians and lay faithful,

Thank you, Bishop N’Koué, for your kind words, and thank you dear seminarian, for your own welcoming and respectful ones. It is a great joy for me to be among you, in Ouidah, and in particular in this seminary placed under the protection of Saint Joan of Arc and dedicated to Saint Gall, a man of outstanding virtue, a monk who desired perfection, and a pastor full of meekness and humility. What could be more noble than to have him as your model, as well as the figure of Monsignor Louis Parisot, indefatigable apostle of the poor and promoter of the local clergy, and that of Father Thomas Moulero, the first priest of the then Dahomey, as well as Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, eminent son of your land and humble servant of the Church?

Our encounter this morning offers me the opportunity to express directly to you my gratitude for your pastoral commitment. I give thanks to God for your zeal, in spite of the occasionally difficult conditions in which you are called to give witness to his love. I thank him for the many men and women who have proclaimed the Gospel in this land, and indeed throughout Africa.

Shortly, I will sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus. It will treat the question of peace, justice and reconciliation. These three values stand out as an evangelical ideal fundamental to baptismal life, and they demand sound acceptance of your identity as priests, as consecrated persons and as lay faithful.

Dear priests, the responsibility for promoting peace, justice and reconciliation falls in a special way to you. Owing to your reception of Holy Orders and your celebration of the Sacraments, you are called in effect to be men of communion. As crystal does not retain the light but rather reflects it and passes it on, in the same manner the priest must make transparent what he celebrates and what he has received. I thus encourage you to let Christ shine through your life, by being in full communion with your Bishop, by a genuine goodwill towards your brother priests, by a profound solicitude for each of the baptized and by great attention to each person. In letting yourself be modelled on Christ, you will never substitute the beauty of your priestly being with ephemeral and at times unhealthy realities which the contemporary mentality tends to impose on every culture. I urge you, dear priests, never to underestimate the unfathomable riches of the divine grace placed in you and which you have been called to live at the service of peace, of justice and of reconciliation.

Dear men and women religious, either active or contemplative, the consecrated life is a radical following of Jesus. May your unconditional choice for Christ lead you to an unlimited love for your neighbour. Poverty and chastity make you truly free to obey unconditionally the one Love which, when it takes hold of you, impels you to proclaim it everywhere. May poverty, obedience and chastity increase your thirst for God and your hunger for his Word, who, by increasing, transforms hunger and thirst into service of those who are deprived of justice, peace and reconciliation. Faithfully lived, the evangelical counsels transform you into a universal brother or sister of all, and they will help you to walk resolutely on the way of holiness. You will arrive there, if you are convinced that, for you, to live is Christ (cf.
Ph 1,21), you will make of your communities reflections of the glory of God and places where you have no debts to anyone, except that of mutual love (cf. Rom Rm 13,8). By means of your proper charisms lived with a spirit of openness to the catholicity of the Church, you can contribute to a harmonious expression of the immensity of the divine gifts at the service of all humanity!

Turning now to you, dear seminarians, I encourage you to place yourselves in the school of Christ in order to acquire those virtues which will help you to live the ministerial priesthood as the locus of your sanctification. Without the logic of holiness, the ministry is merely a social function. The quality of your future life depends on the quality of your personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ, on your sacrifices, on the right integration of the requirements of your current formation. Faced with the challenges of human existence, the priest of today and tomorrow – if he wants to be a credible witness to the service of peace, justice and reconciliation – must be a humble and balanced man, one who is wise and magnanimous. After 60 years in priestly life, I can tell you, dear seminarians, that you will not regret accumulating intellectual, spiritual and pastoral treasures during your formation.

Dear lay faithful here present, you who are at the heart of the daily realities of life, you are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, I urge you to renew yourselves and your work for justice, peace and reconciliation. This mission requires first of all a faith in your family built according to the design of God and in fidelity to his plan for Christian marriage. He also demands of you to be true domestic churches.Thanks to the power of prayer, “personal and family life is transformed, gradually improved and enriched with dialogue, faith is transmitted to the children, the pleasure of being together grows and the home is further united and consolidated” without ceasing (Message for the Sixth World Day of Families, Mexico, 17 January 2009, 3). By having love and forgiveness reign in your families, you will contribute to the upbuilding of a Church which is beautiful and strong, and to the advent of greater justice and peace in the whole of society. In this way, I encourage you, dear parents, to have a profound respect for life and to bear witness to human and spiritual values before your children. And I am pleased to recall that, ten years ago, Pope John Paul II founded at Cotonou a section for French-speaking Africa of the Institute which bears his name, to contribute to theological and pastoral reflection on marriage and the family. Lastly, I exhort especially the catechists, those valiant missionaries at the heart of the most humble realities, to offer them always, with an unshakable hope and determination, an outstanding and absolutely necessary contribution to the spread of the faith through fidelity to the teaching of the Church (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 17).

To conclude this conversation with you, I would like to encourage you all to have an authentic and living faith, which is the unshakeable foundation of a holy Christian life and which is at the service of the building of a new world. The love for the God who reveals himself and for his word, the love for the sacraments and for the Church, are an efficacious antidote against a syncretism which deceives. This love favours the correct integration of the authentic values of cultures into the Christian faith. It liberates from occultism and vanquishes evil spirits, for it is moved by the power of the Holy Trinity itself. Lived deeply, this love is also a ferment of communion which breaks down every barrier, promoting the building of a Church in which there is no segregation among the baptized, for all are made one in Christ Jesus (cf. Gal Ga 3,28). With great confidence, I count on each one of you, priests, men and women religious, seminarians and lay faithful, to bring such a Church to life. As a token of my spiritual and paternal closeness, and entrusting you to the Virgin Mary, I invoke upon all of you, your families, the young and the sick, an abundance of divine blessings. AKLUN? NI K?N F?NU T?N L? DO MI JI[Fon: May the Lord fill you with his blessings!]


Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Ouidah Saturday, 19 November 2011

Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I cordially thank the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, for his words of welcome and presentation, as well as all the members of the Special Council for Africa who helped to collate the results of the Synodal Assembly in preparation for the publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

Today, the celebration of the Synod concludes with the signing of the Exhortation Africae Munus. 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. Bishops, but also experts, auditors, special guests and fraternal delegates, all came to Rome to celebrate this important ecclesial event. I myself went to Yaoundé to present the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences, as a sign of my interest and concern for all the peoples of the African continent and the neighbouring islands. I now have the joy of returning to Africa, and particularly to Benin, to consign this final document, which takes up the reflections of the Synod Fathers and presents them synthetically as part of a broad pastoral vision.

La Deuxième Assemblée spéciale pour l’Afrique du Synode des Évêques a bénéficié de l’Exhortation apostolique post-synodale Ecclesia in Africa du Bienheureux Jean-Paul II, dans laquelle a été soulignée fortement l’urgence de l’évangélisation du continent, qui ne peut être dissociée de la promotion humaine. Par ailleurs, le concept d’Église-famille de Dieu y a été développé. Ce dernier a produit beaucoup de fruits spirituels pour l’Église catholique et pour l’action d’évangélisation et de promotion humaine qu’elle a mise en oeuvre, pour la société africaine dans son ensemble. En effet, l’Église est appelée à se découvrir toujours plus comme une famille. Pour les chrétiens, il s’agit de la communauté des croyants qui loue Dieu Un et Trine, célèbre les grands mystères de notre foi et anime avec charité les rapports entre les personnes, les groupes et les nations, au-delà des diversités ethniques, culturelles et religieuses. Dans ce service rendu à chaque personne, l’Église est ouverte à la collaboration avec toutes les composantes de la société, en particulier avec les représentants des Églises et des Communautés ecclésiales qui ne sont pas encore en pleine communion avec l’Église catholique, tout comme avec les représentants des religions non chrétiennes, surtout ceux des Religions Traditionnelles et de l’Islam.

Prenant en compte cet horizon ecclésial, la Deuxième Assemblée spéciale pour l’Afrique s’est concentrée sur le thème de la réconciliation, de la justice et de la paix. Il s’agit de points importants pour le monde en général, mais ils acquièrent une actualité toute particulière en Afrique. Il suffit de rappeler les tensions, les violences, les guerres, les injustices, les abus de toutes sortes, nouveaux et anciens, qui ont marqué cette année. Le thème principal concernait la réconciliation avec Dieu et avec le prochain. Une Église réconciliée en son sein et entre tous ses membres pourra devenir signe prophétique de réconciliation au niveau de la société, de chaque pays et du continent tout entier. Saint Paul écrit : « Tout vient de Dieu, qui nous a réconciliés avec Lui par le Christ et nous a confié le ministère de la réconciliation » (
2Co 5,18). Le fondement de cette réconciliation se trouve dans la nature même de l’Église qui est « dans le Christ, en quelque sorte le sacrement, c'est-à-dire à la fois le signe et le moyen de l'union intime avec Dieu et de l'unité de tout le genre humain » (LG 1). Sur cette assise, l’Église en Afrique est appelée à promouvoir la paix et la justice. La Porte du Non-retour et celle du Pardon nous rappellent ce devoir et nous poussent à dénoncer et à combattre toute forme d’esclavage.

[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 emphasized the urgent need to evangelize 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 evangelization and human promotion which she has carried out in African society as a whole. The Church is called to see herself increasingly as a family. For Christians, this means being a community of believers which praises the triune God, celebrates the great mysteries of our faith and enlivens with charity relationships between individuals, groups and nations, above and beyond ethnic, cultural and religious differences. In offering this service to everyone, the Church is open to cooperation with all the components of society, particularly with the representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church, as well as with the representatives of the non-Christian religions, above all those of traditional religions and of Islam.

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. Saint Paul writes: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2Co 5,18). The basis of this reconciliation is found in the very nature of the Church, which “in Christ, is a sacrament – a sign and instrument that is, of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium LG 1). Following on this assembly, the Church in Africa is called to promote peace and justice. The Gate of No Return, as well as that of Pardon, remind us of this duty and impel us to combat every form of slavery.]

É preciso não cessar jamais de procurar os caminhos da paz. Esta é um dos bens mais preciosos. Para alcançá-la, é necessário ter a coragem da reconciliação que nasce do perdão, da vontade de recomeçar a vida comunitária, da visão solidária do futuro, da perseverança para superar as dificuldades. Os homens, reconciliados e em paz com Deus e o próximo, podem trabalhar por uma justiça maior no seio da sociedade. É preciso não esquecer que a justiça primeira é, segundo o Evangelho, cumprir a vontade de Deus. Desta opção de base, derivam inúmeras iniciativas que visam promover a justiça na África e o bem de todos os habitantes do continente, principalmente dos mais carenciados que precisam de emprego, escolas e hospitais.

África, terra de um Novo Pentecostes, tem confiança em Deus! Animada pelo Espírito de Jesus Cristo ressuscitado, torna-te a grande família de Deus, generosa com todos os teus filhos e filhas, agentes de reconciliação, de paz e de justiça. África, Boa Nova para a Igreja, torna-te isto mesmo para o mundo inteiro! Obrigado!

[We must never give up the search for new paths of peace! Peace is one of our greatest treasures! 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. Let us not forget that the Gospel teaches that justice means above all doing God’s will. This fundamental resolve spawns countless initiatives aimed at promoting justice in Africa and the welfare of all its peoples, especially the most disadvantaged and those in need of employment, schools and hospitals.

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! Thank you!]

Speeches 2005-13 18211