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To: "SVD webmaster SVD"
Date: 23 Jun 2005, 06:47:07 AM
Subject: fides news

"We offer words of comfort to all. May Mary Queen of Peace protect the destiny of our country": Catholic Bishops address the nation

Lome (Fides Service)- "The unprecedented and difficult situation before and during presidential elections on 24 April may have discouraged many. But to give way to discouragement would only make things worse. Help can only come from God who made heaven and earth. But for God's help to be effective our co-operation is indispensable". This statement was part of a message of comfort which the Catholic Bishops of Togo addressed to the "sons and daughters in Christ, dear compatriots and all men and women of good will" and in which they offer encouragement to the country in a situation of total uncertainty following the death of President Gnassingbé Eyadéma and the outcome of presidential elections on 24 April which gave victory to his son, rejected by the Opposition.

"In this situation we are all called to make a serious examination of conscience with the light of the Holy Spirit" the Bishop said. "Have we done our best to make peace and justice the foundations of our society? Have we done anything we should have avoided? Have we failed to do our duty? These questions and respective answers should help us to change our conduct".

The Bishops made a special mention of the many Togolese forced to flee the country to escape violence. "In the present situation it is urgent to consider the plight of our brothers and sisters who for various reasons left their homes and now live in precarious conditions in other parts of Togo or in other countries. For Togo and its political leaders they represent a problem which requires a speedy solution. These people must be reassured and guaranteed a return without risk and without fear".

"Many citizens have lost their lives: we entrust them to the mercy and goodness of God" the Bishops said. "Many have been wounded or mutilated. Many have lost everything they had. To all who suffer in body or in spirit we offer a message of comfort". "However we cannot fail to mention the many Togolese working with all their heart to promote lasting peace and justice in Togo. We offer them our encouragement; may God bless and reward their efforts" the Bishops said concluding the message with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary "Comforter of the afflicted and Queen of Peace". "We ask her to pray with and for us. May she protect the destiny of our nation. May she obtain for all the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit!"

(Agenzia Fides 22/6/2005 righe 44 parole 453)

The Church in Togo wants to make the nation's difficult situation known to public opinion, it calls for help for the people in danger of losing courage: final Message issued after Meeting between Italian missionaries and local Church in Togo

Lome (Fides Service) - "The Church in Togo would like to make a gift to the Church in Italy of its festive liturgy, the vitality of its communities which strive to become self supporting, the valorisation of the laity, the ability to be patient in a situation of unemployment, poverty, disease . placing all hope in God the Father who never abandons his children. The Church in Togo asks for even more than a gesture of solidarity: for public opinion to be made aware of the situation of impasse Togo is living; help for local communities to build enough churches; help to enable the local Church to use the media as a channel of expression to counter the situation of misinformation, the lure of alienating philosophic movements and the mirage of technological progress which corrodes traditional values".

This is part of a final message drafted by participants at a meeting promoted jointly by the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Togo and Italy and held 6-9 June at Leo XIII Spirituality Centre at Agoenyive (Lome), run by the Canossian Sisters Daughters of Charity. The meeting is the latest in a series organised by the Italian Bishops' Office for Missionary Co-operation with various local Churches in recent years in Albania, Lebanon, Philippines, Thailand, Argentina, Senegal, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, D. Congo, and Peru. At the Togo meeting, attended by 34 Italian missionaries working in the country, gratitude was expressed to what has been done to help Togolese priests and religious study in Italy and those who have been welcomed by Institutes founded in Italy.

As the message recalls during the meeting a priest who teaches at the major seminary and the Archbishop of the capital Mgr Philippe Fanoko Kpodzro "helped the participants to appreciate the present situation in Togo" following death of president Gnassingbe Eyadema 5 February 2005 after 38 years of power. And the ensuing tension when awaited change did not come and 850 people were killed and 30,000 fled their homes. Now the political situation has stalled, with regard to its economy the country appears to be at the mercy of everyone and everything, life expectancy is no more than 47/48 years, roads are practically non existent and communications are tools of propaganda and misinformation, public order is in the hands of the army.

This difficult situation commits the Church to encourage "the hope of the people close to discouragement and desperation". The young Church in Togo (first mass celebrated by Divine Word missionaries on the beach in 28 August1892), today has 7 dioceses, more than 400 local priests, numerous local men and women religious as well as no small number of foreign missionaries. The participants at the meeting stressed the need to strive for more inculturated evangelisation "to work for the common good, defend the freedom of the poor and promote the truth, peace and justice. Poverty and the present time of anxiety should help to strengthen the religious and spiritual life of individuals and communities, make prayer more intense and the clergy closer to the people." Missionaries are asked to continue their efforts to help the local Church grow and to engage in dialogue with traditional African Religions and with Islam.

(Agenzia Fides 22/6/2005 - Righe 41; Parole 576)