By Festus Tarawalie
African and European bishops have issued a joint communique following their four-day meeting on the current and important issue of the meaning of globalization for the church and cultures of both continents. The April 12-15 seminar in Fatima, Portugal was part of a series of pastoral solidarity meetings between the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
In the communique, the bishops said, “globalization is a dynamic, multi-purpose process that affects all areas of individual, family and social life, including economics, politics, culture and religion.”
They noted that on one hand it “offers solidarity among nations and peoples; it can serve justice and peace, and can share spiritual and material riches locally and worldwide”. On the other hand, they said globalization “when marked by sin, as it is often the case today, tends to cause a profound gap between rich and poor, between powerful and weak.” They say it also destroys the legacy of high culture, spirituality, and human dignity, which can trigger a lack of respect for human life, such as abortion, euthanasia and eugenics.
The statement further laments that both the “multiplication of armed conflicts and the tragedy of refugees and migrants are some of the bitter fruits of globalization.” The Church calls “for respect for creation, for human ecology” and for the respect of human life and dignity, said the statement.
In the face of certain ideologies that go against family values, the African and European church leaders made an urgent appeal for “effective action in support of families in their education work”
They said this accompaniment of families demands the promotion of personal contacts as well as a proper use of the media. “The defence of the poor, sick, marginalized, and weak, is not optional but imperative,” said the communique.
The meeting in Fatima was chaired by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of CCEE, and by Angolan Archbishop Gabriele Mbilingi, President of SECAM.
Below is the full statment
Final Communiqué of the Participants in the CCEE-SECAM Seminar
Fatima, Portugal, 12-15 April 2018
Meeting in Fatima from 12 to 15 April 2018, the delegations of the African Bishops (SECAM) and the European Bishops (CCEE) discussed the current and important issue of the meaning of globalization for the Church and Cultures in Europe and in Africa.
The bishops have addressed a grateful thought to the Holy Father Francis for his Magisterium and the witness of his universal service. They raised a fervent prayer to Our Lady of Fatima for his person.
The Catholic Church, out of its universal nature, rich in its two-thousand-year experience and its existence in the whole world, steps forward as a witness and expert in the development of the human person and all humankind.
Globalization is a dynamic, multi-purpose process that affects all areas of individual, family, and social life, including economics, politics, culture, and religion.
It is ambivalent. On the one hand it offers solidarity among nations and peoples; it can serve justice and peace; it can share spiritual and material riches locally and worldwide; it can spread noble and constructive ideas and values.
On the other hand, globalization, when marked by sin as it is often the case today, tends to cause a profound gap between rich and poor, between powerful and weak; it strengthens the struggle for power, for growing profit and hedonism; it destroys the legacy of high culture, spirituality, and human dignity, triggering a deconstruction of the very foundations of existence, such as the unconditioned right to life (abortion, euthanasia, eugenics ...). In some areas of the world it is noted that a certain irrational post-modernity even leads to an animalization of humans and to a humanization of animals.
Here again, the decisive importance of worship comes to the forefront: worship of God is enacted in the relationship of man with the Beginning and the End of history and the whole universe. It is thanks to their relationship with God that humans figure out the ultimate meaning of their earthly journey, a journey that becomes a pilgrimage towards the End: this is not dissolution but Consummation and Fullness. In worship, man finds - together with meaning - also the moral direction, the path of living in the Good and therefore living well; the path of good life. Without the connection to God, man - and the culture that ensues - remains a prisoner of time, of immanence: culture is exposed to what is relative, subject to continuous changes.
Both the multiplication of armed conflicts and the tragedy of refugees and migrants are some of the bitter fruits of globalization. The Church calls for respect for creation, for human ecology, for integral humanism, for man created in the image and likeness of God and endowed with an intrinsic dignity.
The destructive purpose of certain ideologies is clear: erotization of society, pan-sexuality, and the gender theory threaten the institution of marriage and the family. The result is an increasingly atomized society without lasting relationships which condemns everyone to loneliness. Youth is the first victim of these harmful proposals, but with great hope we look to the forthcoming Synod. These ideologies weigh heavily on their future life which should instead be based on fidelity and respect between spouses and all members of the family. The negative aspects of globalization demand an active and courageous vigilance on the part of priests, consecrated persons, lay faithful, all believers, and people of good will.
A delicate task belongs to the Bishops as pastors and successors of the Apostles. The African and European Bishops taking part in the meeting are urgently calling for effective action in support of the families in their educational work. And this accompaniment of the families demands the promotion of personal contacts as well as a proper use of the media. Without forgetting that the defence of the poor, sick, marginalized, and weak, is not optional but imperative.
The Bishops, who represent Africa and Europe, renew their dedication to their communities and their continents. They invoke from God the gift of peace for the world, especially for many areas where conflicts are prolonged or intensified.
While we thank the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima and the Shrine for their reception in these days, we entrust to our Lady our commitment, as well as the commitment of our priests and Christian communities, to proclaim the Gospel and thus be a leaven of joy and trust for all. We feel urgently our duty to animate every human process towards its fullness that is found in Jesus Christ.