Vatican News Africa Service Staff – Vatican city.
German and African Bishops hail relationship
Speaking to Vatican News in separate interviews, Archbishop Ludwig Schick, the German Bishop of Bamberg who is also President of the Commission for International Church Affairs together with Angolan Archbishop, Gabriel Mbilingi, the current President of SECAM said they were meeting for the eighth time in a formal relationship spanning three decades.
Solidarity based on mutual respect
SECAM and the German Bishops told Vatican News correspondent, Faustina Angmor, that the joint meetings take place every four years and have a threefold purpose: Through the encounters, both sides seek to foster knowledge about Africa in Germany and to Africans about life in Europe. The meetings also offer an occasion for Bishops to pray together in pursuit of Gospel values as well as growing solidarity that is based on mutual respect.
According to Archbishop Schick, German missionaries who came to Africa have contributed to the evangelisation of Africa. However, the German Church is aware that the relationship between Africa and Europe has had its challenges and setbacks especially with the legacy of colonial rule.
“The relationship with Europe and Africa is a long relationship -since many centuries. Now, we as a Church (in Germany), want to help Africa’s development. We wish for Africans to develop themselves because in the past the relationship was not always good. It was sometimes a relationship (based on) the exploitation of Africa for Europe and even for Germany. We want to change that and contribute to the development of Africa here (on the continent),” Archbishop Schick said.
Integral development is part of the Church’s calling
For his part, Angolan Archbishop of Lubango who is also SECAM President, Gabriel Mbilingi, said the Church in Africa, through SECAM, appreciates the three-decades-long formal relationship with the German Bishops.
“We thank God that through this pastoral cooperation, the Church in Africa continues to grow and promote the Biblical Apostolate as well as various pastoral, cultural and peace initiatives. We are both convinced that the integral development of the human person (either in Europe or Africa) forms part of the Church’s mission and should be vigorously promoted by the Church,” the Angolan Archbishop said.
Speaking up for a more just global order
At the end of the eighth German-African Bishops’ encounter, a communique jointly issued called for a more just global order especially regarding international trade.
“We speak up for a more just global order especially regarding the international trade that offers the same opportunities to all countries and peoples.” The communique adds, “Integral development can only be successful when discrimination of people, especially of women is eradicated.”
The communique further affirms that “As the Church in Africa and Europe, we commit ourselves to ensure that our evangelisation mission and work are inseparably tied to the demands of integral human development.”
Integral human development should resonate in the Church
The Bishops say, “The aims of integral human development should resonate within all aspects of Church life – in liturgical issues, in our catechism, education, welfare and social work. In our universities, faculties of theology and philosophy, seminaries and Catholic schools, we will promote the teaching of Catholic Social Doctrine in order to enable the priests, religious and lay people promote the integral human development of all persons, always and everywhere,” reads the communique in part.