Festus Tarawalie - Vatican City
Pope Francis on 11 June received in audience bishops from Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone as they marked the end of their ad limina visit. During an ad limina, usually once every five years, bishops’ conferences prepare reports for Vatican dicastery, describing the status of the Church in their country or region.
A meeting of "a brother with his brothers"
After the meeting with the pope, the Archbishop of Freetown, His Grace Edward Tamba Charles gave me his impression.
Archbishop Charles says the meeting was a very good one and that it was in the pope's words a “meeting of brother with brothers”. He also revealed that the bishops of Sierra Leone and Liberia asked Pope Francis to visit their countries.. St. Pope John Paul II had planned a visit to the two countries in 1992, but the visit was cancelled due to the spillover of Liberia’s civil war into its neighbour. He did visit Senegal, Gambia and Guinea that year.
Challenges of the local church and care for the environment
Meanwhile, in an interview ahead of the 11 June meeting, the Archbishop of Freetown also shared with me on some of the challenges facing his local church and about the care for the environment.
In his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si, Pope Francis drew the attention of humanity and the Church to the most urgent questions relating to the care of our common home. The pope in that document says, the problems of the destruction of the natural environment are increasingly grave and the consequences on the lives of people are dramatic and calls for joint efforts to reverse the trend.
Archbishop Charles and I come from the same country, Sierra Leone, a country endowed with huge natural resources (from diamonds to gold, from forest resources to rutile), yet people in areas were these resources are found are poor and the environment has been greatly depleted as result of the extraction of those natural resources.
Archbishop Charles says he has been speaking out on environmental issues and the fair distribution of resources in the light of Laudato Si.