Paul Samasumo –Vatican City
The Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé -Conferência Episcopal de Angola e São Tomé (CEAST) in their recent plenary assembly held from 13 to 20 March, in Luanda and attended by all Bishops of the region has welcomed the conclusions of the summit on the Protection of Minors, convened by Pope Francis and held in Rome last February.
Angolan Young people commended for Panama WYD 2019
Similarly, the CEAST Bishops endorsed the preliminary report for the First National Congress of the Clergy of Angola slated for August, this year. They further commended young people from the region who participated in the World Youth Day 2019 events of Panama.
Concerning gender-based violence, the Bishops say the vice is prevalent in their communities and is tearing families apart. They have committed to doing more for families.
Preparations for the ‘Ad Limina Apostolorum’ Visit
Among other things, the Bishops approved plans and programmes for the Quinquennial Visit to Rome, known as 'Ad Limina Apostolorum Visit.' The Bishops are expected in the Vatican for a visit to Pope Francis, next June.
CEAST delegation for SECAM Golden Jubilee
The conference of Bishops equally approved a CEAST delegation that will represent them at the forthcoming Golden Jubilee celebrations of SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) scheduled for 28 July in Kampala, Uganda.
The CEAST plenary was presided over by the Archbishop of Luanda, who is also the President of CEAST, Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias.
Other matters dealt with by the CEAST Bishops include preparations for the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress scheduled for Budapest, Hungry 13-20 September 2020.
Reports and concerns from dioceses
The Bishops then listened to reports from various dioceses.
In response to the reports, the Conference highlighted its concern about the rapid deforestation of the region, without any visible replacement plan for trees, by governments in their areas. They worry that if nothing is done, urgently, Angola and São Tomé will soon see great desertification and the degradation of the environment. Unfortunately, all this comes at a price of severe climatic and weather-related disasters.
Rampant unemployment among young people
Reports from the dioceses also indicate that there is widespread unemployment and crime among young people. Young people in Angola and São Tomé feel marginalised, disillusioned and desperate. Many do not see any immediate solution to their challenges.
The Bishops have since said more pastoral attention and actions, in keeping with deliberations of the last Synod of Bishops for Young people, are needed.
Further, the Bishops heard that citizens, in their countries, are suffocating from high taxation and that many small and medium-sized enterprises were no longer able to cope. Many have since been driven out of business. The Bishops have since made an urgent appeal to the government to consider revising current Customs Tariffs.
Notwithstanding gains in recent years, HIV-AIDS cases are still a significant health concern in the region, and the Bishops would like to more resources, awareness raising and campaigns towards reducing the risk of further contagion.