AFRICA: Continent must Strengthen Solidarity Witnessed during Pope’s visit

CISA DECEMBER 8, 2015(CISA) -Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has lauded Pope Francis on his Apostolic visit to Africa in November.

“This visit (of Pope Francis to Africa) gave the opportunity to Catholics, to our Churches, to priests, sisters and Bishops (in Africa) to know how much the Holy Father, Pope Fancis loves Africa.The Holy Father wants Africa to a have a better and positive understanding of herself,” Cardinal Filoni told Vatican Radio.

He said that by opening the Holy Door and thus beginning the Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Bangui, Pope Francis was making a historical, symbolic and profound statement.

“The Holy Father in opening the Holy Door in Bangui, put Africa at the centre of the Church’s attention. Normally, the centre of the Church is Rome. In going to Africa, he is saying: Today, Bangui is the centre of the Catholic Church. He is saying, ‘I am here with you; I am sharing with you not only your suffering, your problems but also the joyful experience of being Church.’ So, in other words, Rome is not the only centre but everywhere the Pope goes becomes the centre of the Church. This is very important for Africa,” Cardinal Filoni said.

Cardinal Filoni further applauded the solidarity of African neighbouring countries during the visit.
“In the three countries visited, the Bishops representing nearby countries, nearby dioceses came to share as African Bishops and show in person what solidarity means,” Cardinal Filoni said.

He stressed his wish that this solidarity within the African Church would be cultivated further.

“The Churches (in Africa) need to develop this sense of solidarity among themselves. For example, all the Bishops of Cameroon, including the retired ones, came to Bangui. I recognise that the President of Cameroon gave the Bishops a special plane to fly them from Cameroon to Bangui. This great sensibility on the part of the Bishops coupled with sensibility on the part of the political authorities is important… The fact also that many ambassadors from neighboring African countries attended many of the events where the Holy Father went is a very good thing. In fact, many ambassadors also travelled to Bangui,” the Cardinal said.

Cardinal Filoni has thus encouraged the Church in Africa to cultivate cordial relations with civil and political authorities. “Yes, without them, we can do something but with them, we can do much more,” he said.

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