That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political‐religious conflicts.
[…] “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19)! I welcome you on your pilgrimage ad Limina Apostolorum to the resting places of the Apostles for whose intercession we are here to pray, as you seek unity and strength inspired by their lives given in service of Christ and his Church. I thank Bishop Bhasera for his kind words of greeting on behalf of the Bishops and all Catholics of Zimbabwe; may these days of prayer and solidarity between their pastors and the Successor of Peter be a fruitful time of spiritual renewal.
We can give praise to God for the authentic witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus given by the Church in Zimbabwe, which flourished early in the Christian history of Southern Africa. Your predecessors in the episcopate, joined with their priests, religious and lay coworkers – many of them missionaries from faraway countries – spent their lives so that the faith might take root and flourish in your land. Across Zimbabwe, mission stations blossomed into parishes and dioceses. The Church became indigenous, a strong young tree in the garden of the Lord, full of life and bearing rich fruit. Generations of Zimbabweans – including many political leaders – have been educated in Church schools. Catholic hospitals have taken care of the infirm for many decades, offering physical and psychological healing. Many vocations to the priesthood and religious life have come from your land, and these vocations continue. For all these graces, and despite every challenge, our prayer of thanks rises to God like an evening sacrifice.
The Church in your country has stood fast with her people both before and after independence, now also in the years of overwhelming suffering as millions have left the country in frustration and desperation, as many lives have been lost, so many tears shed. In the exercise of your prophetic ministry, you gave dramatic voice to all the struggling people of your country, especially to the downtrodden and the refugees. I think particularly of your 2007 Pastoral Letter God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed: “The suffering people of Zimbabwe are groaning in agony: ‘Watchman, how much longer the night?’” There you showed how the crisis is both spiritual and moral, stretching from colonial times through the present moment, and how the “structures of sin” embedded in the social order are ultimately rooted in personal sin, requiring of all a profound personal conversion and a renewed moral sense enlightened by the Gospel.
Christians find themselves on all sides of the conflict in Zimbabwe, and so I urge you to guide everyone with great tenderness towards unity and healing: this is a people both black and white, some richer but most exceedingly poorer, of numerous tribes; the followers of Christ belong to all political parties, some in positions of authority, many not. But together as the one pilgrim People of God, they need conversion and healing, in order to become ever more fully “one Body, one Spirit in Christ” (cf. Eph 4:4). Through preaching and works of the apostolate, may your local Churches demonstrate that “reconciliation is not an isolated act but a lengthy process by which all parties are re-established in love – a love that heals through the working of God’s word” (Africae Munus, 34).
While Zimbabweans’ faithfulness is already a balm on some of these national wounds, I know that many people have reached their human limit, and do not know where to turn. In the midst of all this, I ask you to encourage the faithful never to lose sight of the ways in which God is hearing their supplications and answering their prayers, for, as you have written, he cannot fail to hear the cry of the poor. In this Easter season, as the Church throughout the world celebrates the victory of Christ over the power of sin and death, the Gospel of the resurrection which you are entrusted to proclaim must be clearly preached and lived in Zimbabwe. Let us never forget the lesson of the resurrection: “on razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history” (Evangelii Gaudium, 276).
Fearlessly proclaim this Gospel of hope, bringing the Lord’s message into the brokenness of our time, tirelessly preaching forgiveness and the mercy of God. Keep encouraging the faithful to renew their personal encounter with the Risen Lord, and to return to the sacraments, especially to Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, source and summit of our Christian life. […]
ADDRESS TO THE BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF ZIMBABWE
ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT
2 June 2014
© Copyright 2014 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
The evangelization is the competence of all the Christian faithful
As the Second Vatican Council made clear, the work of evangelization is not reserved to the clergy or religious, but is the competence of all the Christian faithful, who are called to proclaim the saving love they have experienced in the Lord Jesus (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 6). I appreciate the efforts you have made to create new opportunities for the catechetical formation of the faithful and to reach out to the young, who are at that pivotal time of their lives when they are challenged to deepen their relationship with Christ and his Church, and looking to start families of their own. Confronted by so many challenges in contemporary society, including an increasingly secularized culture and fewer opportunities for dignified work, it is essential that wise and committed lay men and women guide young people in discerning the direction of their lives and in securing their future. For a more effective catechetical outreach, it is also important to continue to identify and prepare qualified lay leaders to assist in forming the faithful and thus make present “the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze” (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).
Dear brother Bishops, together with the priests, men and women religious, and lay faithful of your local Churches, you are called to diffuse this fragrance of Christ in the midst of Ethiopia and Eritrea (cf. 2 Cor 2:14). Many years of conflict and continuing tensions, in addition to widespread poverty and drought conditions, have brought great suffering to the people. I thank you for the generous social programmes which, inspired by the Gospel, you provide in collaboration with various religious, charitable and governmental agencies, aimed at alleviating this suffering. I think especially of the many children you serve who experience hunger and who have been orphaned because of violence and poverty. I am mindful too of the young people who like so many of their friends and family would otherwise flee their homeland in search of greater opportunities, and risk losing their lives during dangerous journeys. And of course, we must always remember the many elderly who could so easily be forgotten in the midst of such hardships. Your efforts on their behalf, which give such a powerful witness to the love of God in your midst, are an extraordinary grace for the people. In your loving concern for the poor and downtrodden, may you continue to seek new opportunities to cooperate with civil authorities in advancing the common good.
ADDRESS TO THE BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA
ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT
9 May 2014
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