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SEDOS SYMPOSIUM ON THE LINEAMENTA
Last March 27, 2009, SEDOS along with USG/UISG and the Association of African General Councillors (Rome), organized a symposium to discuss the Lineamenta of the Second Special Assembly for Africa with the theme "The Church in Africa in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace". The symposium coincided with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in Cameroon and Angola.
There were close to 250 religious men and women who participated in the event. Fr. General Antonio Pernia, with some members of the General Council and other SVDs, were participants. Fr. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu SVD, Secretary General, was one of the two speakers.
In his talk, Fr. Fianu first highlighted the principal issues of the Lineamenta. He reminded the participants of the political, economic and cultural realities of the continent. He pointed out that even though Africa is often seen as a continent of wars, tensions, economic problems and the destruction of property, it is also a continent of hope and communion. Among the positive developments on the continent he mentioned the burning desire for peace throughout the continent; the deep consciousness of the need to promote African women and the dignity of every human person and the involvement of the laity in the promotion of human rights.
In the second part of his talk he invitated participants to reflect further on what could enrich the content of the on-going reflection leading to the Assembly itself. Areas of concern that he proposed included inter-religious dialogue, Reading and sharing of the Holy Writings and traditions of the major religions found on the continent, Reconciliation, justice and peace ad intra; the prophetic role of priests and consecrated persons; Reconciliation and healing.
Fr. Fianu concluded by pointing to the way Africa is perceived by the rest of the world and by Africans themselves. Very often many people have negative ideas about the continent and some even think nothing good can come out of Africa. He called on all to change their mentality about and their attitude towards Africa. Non-Africans should look beyond her poverty, disease and underdevelopment. They should begin to appreciate her efforts towards liberation and her demand for fair treatment on the international scene. Africans do not want to be considered beggars. They demand a just reward for their efforts and labour. The church in Africa, he said, is in a good position to create an enabling environment for such a change of mentality by both the Africans themselves and non-Africans.
The other speaker was Sister Helen Mbuyamba, general councilor of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA). She mentioned that the present crisis in Africa has brought 100 million women to poverty. She added that "a woman sows seeds into the soul of a human being that no one can destroy". She emphasized the fact that within a social organization, a man takes responsibility for the structures and the woman for the infrastructures. Larger scale changes are only possible through a radical change of mentality leading to re-organization of society in all its spheres. At the end of the presentations, there was a time for discussion and questions.
Arlindo Pereira Dias, SVD