The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops has ended after three weeks of hard work together, of prayer and of reciprocal listening. This was emphasized quite simply by Benedict xvi, President of the Synod, who was often present and paid great attention to the discussions during these days which made an important contribution not only to the Church but to the continent and to the world scene as a whole. Even if the international media – with a few exceptions – once again lost out by showing little interest in this exercise of collective and collegial responsibility, which for more than forty years now has been part of the exercise of the primacy of the Successor of Peter.
The Church of Rome, however, is the only important earthly reality which – in continuity with her tradition – faces globalization without a sense of fatalism or resignation, despite the difficulties and innumerable risks involved. Indeed, Catholics know well that this global phenomenon can be orientated, and they seek to direct it towards brotherhood and sharing. And they contribute to renewing the model of development to include all peoples in it, as the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate realistically underlined in keeping with the teaching and witness in particular of Paul vi and John Paul ii; and as was clearly indicated by the Pope's Journey to Cameroon and Angola, where he made the powerful move of symbolically inaugurating the work of the Synod.
Thus from the See of the Successor of Peter who “presides over universal communion” a message reaches the entire African continent that is born from the entire Church and from Africa itself, embracing its experiences, expectations and projects. Although the principal words the Synod addresses to the peoples of the great continent, forgotten or exploited by the international community, are those “that the Lord of history”, Benedict xvi said in his concluding Homily, “never tires of renewing for the oppressed and overcome humanity of every era and every land”: they are an announcement of hope and joy, because God's plan and promises do not change.
As the Pope was careful to emphasize the work of the Synod ran the risk of two opposite dangers: on the one hand, a politicization that risked transforming the Bishops into politicians, even if this political dimension “is very real”; and on the other, an abstract and disembodied spiritualization. However, this double risk was avoided in the awareness that reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without that “newness which must come precisely from the encounter with God”, and without purification of heart. At the same time – Benedict xvi repeated once again – in practice attention to reality is indispensable, but in God's perspective. God wants to renew it in order to heal and to enlighten humanity that is blind and sick and in need of his salvation, although in many cases this is only dimly perceived.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 19, 2020
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