Thursday, October 8, 2009

African Synod in Rome -- October 4-25, 2009!

The Second Synod of African Bishops is ongoing right now and several Jesuits are receiving updates from the work going on there and have been writing various pieces. I share one with you below from Ghislain Tschikendwa, the Secretary of the Social Apostolate from JESAM (Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar) and Michael Czerny, SJ, Director of the African Jesuits AIDS Network (AJAN).

Benedict XVI : “Africa represents an enormous spiritual “lung” for a humanity…”
As you know, last Sunday 4 October 2009, at 9h15, the Holly Father Benedict XVI presided at the Solemn Concelebration of the Eucharist with the Synodal Fathers, for the Inauguration of the II Special Assembly for Africa Bishops, to held in the Synod Hall of the Vatican until 25 October 2009, on the theme: The Church in Africa at the service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Mt (:13, 14).
Concelebrating with the Pope were 239 Synod Fathers (33 Cardinals, 3 Synod Fathers of the Eastern Churches, 75 Archbishops, 120 Bishops and 8 Priests) and 55 Collaborators.
At the start of the Mass, during the Rite of the Aspergillum presided over by the Holy Father, the choir and assembly sang “Asperges me” and “Nakoma peto” (“That I may be made pure”, song in Lingala sang by the Congolese choir).
At the end of the Concelebration (11h15), the assembly sang a final hymn in Lingala to Mary “Tokobondela yo e, Mama Maria” (We pray you, Mother Mary).
Let me recall one of the most powerful statements of our Pope: “When we speak of the treasures of Africa, our thoughts immediately turn to the resources its land is rich in and that, unfortunately, have become and often continue to be a reason for exploitation, conflict and corruption. The World of God, instead, makes us look at another inheritance: the spiritual and cultural one of which humanity has even greater need than it does of raw materials. (…) From this point of view, Africa represents an enormous spiritual “lung” for a humanity that appears to be in crisis of faith and hope. But this “lung” can take ill as well. And, at the moment, at least two dangerous pathologies are attacking it: first of all, an illness that is already widespread in the West, that is, practical materialism, combined with relativist and nihilist thinking. Without entering into the merit of the origins of such sicknesses of the spirit, there is absolutely no doubt that the so-called “First” World has exported up to now and continues to export its spiritual toxic waste that contaminates the peoples of other continents, in particular those of Africa. In this sense, colonialism which is over at political level, has never really entirely come to and end. But from this same point of view we also we have also have to point out a second “virus” that could hit Africa, that is, religious fundamentalism, mixed together with political and economic interests…”

Ghislain, SJ
Interview Michael Czerny, S.J.
Rome, 4 October 2009

“The spread of AIDS is a terrible and worrying fact. Through the African Jesuit AIDS Network, the African Assistancy is doing remarkable efforts to help victims of this scourge and, even more important, to educate people in proper moral conduct.”
Father Adolfo Nicolás SJ, October 2008

1. Vous êtes le Coordinateur du Réseau Jésuite de lutte contre le Sida (AJAN) dont le siège est à Nairobi, au Kenya. Pouvez-vous décrire très brièvement votre travail ?
AJAN’s mission is to help Jesuits in sub-Saharan Africa – their works and communities, individually and with their colleagues – to respond to HIV and AIDS in an effective, coordinated and evangelical manner. We are about 1340 priests, brothers and scholastics in some 30 countries of the Assistancy, and over 200 of us are currently involved in different ways. Most of our AIDS ministries are modest efforts embedded in traditional Jesuit works such as parishes, social projects and communications, high-school education and university chaplaincy, Ignatian spirituality and our own Jesuit formation.

“The African Jesuit AIDS Network has been able to strengthen and co-ordinate the efforts of many individuals, give respectability to the Church's involvement in resisting the pandemic spread of AIDS and, above all, accompany with dignity many of those suffering from its effects.”
Former Superior-General, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., January 2007

AJAN House is located in Kangemi, a Nairobi slum. The role of this coordinating centre is to encourage and support AIDS ministries run by Jesuits or related to the Society of Jesus in Africa, that is, the members of AJAN. The small team at AJAN House tries to consolidate what Jesuits are already doing and make these efforts known, strengthen initiatives already underway, help potential programmes to get off the ground, and link everyone together in a network of communication and mutual support.

2. Nous avons appris que vous prendrez part au prochain synode africain. Quelle relation établissez-vous entre le thème du Synode (« L’Eglise en Afrique au service de la réconciliation, de la justice et de la paix ») et le travail que vous faites à AJAN ?
Although it is not explicitly mentioned in the title of the Second Synod for Africa, HIV-AIDS remains one of the challenges the Church faces in the continent and therefore an important topic for the Synod. The Church in Africa cannot work for reconciliation, justice and peace without seriously addressing the issue of HIV and AIDS. We cannot be completely in peace and reconciled with ourselves and others while this challenge is cruelly assaulting us in our families, our communities, our societies.
The Synod seems to me a great opportunity to work and reflect about reconciliation, justice and peace, not only in terms of war and economy but also anthropologically and culturally in terms of health and customs and morality. We need a prophetic voice to speak for the forgotten people.
We need Church agents and prophetic leaders to defend those who are forgotten. So I hope that the Synod will take into account AIDS the other real problems of the Family of God on the continent and address them with courage and love.

3. Et pourquoi, d’après vous, avez-vous été choisi pour prendre part à cette grande Assemblée dont l’importance pour la vie de l’Eglise en Afrique est indéniable ?
The relatively new ministry of AJAN somehow seems recognized as valuable and valid.

4. Quelles sont vos attentes par rapport à ce deuxième synode ?
My first hope: that the Synod help the Holy Father as pastor, help the African Bishops in their pastoral responsibility for the Church in Africa. Secondly, a renewal, a new Pentecost of the Church as Family of God in Africa. Thirdly, the Synod is an extraordinary grace for each bishop to discover the challenges of his own diocese and country in the context of the whole continent. For me, even more, a unique chance to get to know Africa better as it really is, not the “jungle of chaos” to which the media too often reduce it. And finally: the very best thing, says a companion Jesuit who served at an earlier one, the Synod will be a month-long opportunity to get to know the Holy Father, the African Bishops and the other participants very well.

5. Quels conseils donneriez-vous pour que les résultats du synode aident effectivement le continent africain à renaître?
I would put special stress on communication and on formation.

“True to our Jesuit charism, we should seek to form men and women for others who will take up leadership in HIV/AIDS ministries in the Church and throughout society. Above all, we should place ourselves wholly at the disposal of the Church, our dioceses, and our Bishops, supporting and stimulating our fellow priests and religious and galvanising a total response by the people of God to combat the enemy that is in our midst.”
AJAN Assembly, September 2003

Michael Czerny, S.J.,

No comments: