Cardinal Secretary of State visits in Cameroon
‘Lectio Magistralis’ at the Catholic University of Central Africa

The Holy See in Africa
a ‘bridge’ between peace
and justice

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06 February 2021

The action of the Holy See, “in the entire world and, in particular on the African Continent, expends all its efforts to promote the dignity of every person in every place and situation”. So stated Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the Lectio Magistralis held on Monday, 1 February, at the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on the theme “The Holy See’s presence in Africa: a bridge between the idea of peace and the realization of justice”.

The Cardinal, who was on a visit to Cameroon from 28 January to 3 February, emphasized that it is no coincidence that “the one who governs the universal church is called Pontiff”, in other words, the builder of bridges “between God and man and consequently bridges among men”. The ultimate aim of these bridges is “the harmony among peoples and nations” that the Holy See promotes on every occasion, reiterating respect for fundamental human rights: “It is not a matter of merely declaring peace, but rather it calls for tangibly building peace through sound and serious work, as patient as it is tenacious, sustained by the unconditional choice of justice”. Cardinal Parolin recalled the establishment in 1967, by Paul vi, of the Pontifical Commission Justitia et Pax, with the intention “to awaken in the People of God full awareness of their mission today”, and in 2016, by Pope Francis, of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The Secretary of State then highlighted the collaborations with the un to accomplish this mission, always oriented according to an order of justice for which “there can be no true development without considering an improvement of the life of every human being”.

In particular — the Secretary of State observed — the long history of the Holy See’s diplomatic action in Africa shows how the policy of the Church is the very bridge that connects the idea of peace and solidarity with concrete attention toward the needs of each person. Three guidelines identified by the cardinal help read the Holy See’s contribution to the life of Africa: greater justice, stable peace and sincere cooperation.

With regard to the first, the “significance of Justice lies in the capacity to offer the proper value to every thing, finding the measure in solidarity and in sharing so that Justice may take the short but challenging step that leads from word to fact”.

The term stable peace — he continued — means “true peace”, which is “long-lasting and rooted in the social fabric”. A peace that cannot be simply declared but sought “in the heart of man and in the conscience”. A peace, moreover, that is not “separated from the duties of justice, but fuelled by one’s sacrifice, by clemency, by mercy and charity”. Peace, intended as a possibility for mankind to accomplish itself, is never an objective achieved once and for all, but “an edifice to be built up daily” with the protection of human dignity, with respect and also with love.

Lastly, “sincere cooperation”, two simple words — he said — wherein lies the “secret” of the life of the international community and of every single continent, nation or people: “Sincerity recalls the necessity of placing on the table of negotiations and of various discussions the reality of problems, without veiling situations with private interests, but courageously declaring the need to work to safeguard fundamental human rights. Cooperation proves to be an inevitable factor if we wish to achieve effective respect for fundamental rights, for peace, and therefore for security. Collaboration, today, assumes a moral value, in the sense that it calls for overcoming different political rivalries in view of the common good”.

The Holy See — the cardinal stated — proposes a cultural change and a change of thought “that is able to create an authentic society of love based on God, because when man loses God, he loses himself as well”. A mission advanced “through many men and women of good will, young people, lay people, priests and consecrated persons” who defend and promote “fundamental human rights, carrying out a pervasive and widespread work of information and awareness raising to help every subject of the international community to better understand the value of human dignity and the social obligation to defend and protect every life. Indeed, the Holy See works to spread a humanism capable of looking at life as the loftiest gift God has given to man”.

“In the current global panorama, marked by the complexity and diversity often raised as a sign of pride and dignity to distinguish oneself from the rest of the world — Cardinal Parolin concluded — the Holy See, in the international Community as in each particular Nation” is committed to “building a world that is able to assume the concrete responsibility to protect the dignity of each person. A responsibility based not only on the effort to deal with problems, but on the courage to safeguard and promote humanity and its dignity by seeking a balance whose boundary is not the need for security but the life of man where it happens”.

Roberta Barbi