AFRICA - Africa’s Catholic bishops confirm commitment to promoting human development

Accra (Agenzia Fides)- "The Church cannot be indifferent or isolated in the face of present day socio-political and economic challenges facing Africa" says a report received by Fides regarding the presentation of Pastoral Letter "Governance, common good and democratic transition in Africa" issued by the Symposium of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Africa and Madagascar (SECAM/SCEAM), a body comprising all of Africa’s Catholic bishops conferences. The Pastoral Letter was signed in Accra (Ghana) by SECAM President, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar es Salaam.. The Pastoral Letter, following in the wake of the post-synod Apostolic Exhortation, Africae Munus issued by Pope Benedict XVI, underlines that "common good, respect for people’s rights and the promotion of good governance are essential elements of the Gospel Message ". In the Pastoral Letter the Bishops recall that the Catholic Church has played an essential role in the promotion of democracy and the common good. For example in several countries during the delicate period of democratic transition in the 1990s the Church played a clearly visible role of support. Five of the eight National Transition Conferences in that period were chaired by Catholic bishops, the letter states. The African Church has intervened many times to call for fair exploitation of the continent’s natural resources, such as oil and timber. In this regard, while praising efforts made by many countries to improve the living standards of the people, the African Bishops denounce persistent corruption among officials and depredation of resources by multinational companies which still prevent a high number of Africans from benefitting from the riches of their nations. Despite these limits the Bishops confirm their commitment to collaborate with governments and other institutions to promote integral human development in Africa. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19/2/2013)