Keeping the lamp of hope burning in the Central African Republic
Vatican News English Africa Service – Vatican City
“The Catholic Church is fully inserted in the general context of the socio-political life in the Central African Republic. To date, it suffers from prevailing insecurity and has paid a heavy price for the crisis affecting the whole country and whose effects continue to be also felt on the structures and organisation of its parishes: Looting, vandalism, attacks on pastoral agents and restrictions on pastoral activities leaves the Church with a sense of evangelical fragility and poverty,” the Bishop of Bossangoa, Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia, S.M.A. told Agenzia Fides recently, in an interview.
Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia, who is also President of the Central African Episcopal Conference (Conférence Episcopal Centrafricaine - CECA), was speaking ahead of World Mission Day 2020 scheduled for 18 October 2020. The month of October is set aside, by the universal Church, for missionary animation and preparations leading to World Mission Day (Mission sunday).
Some of our Christians no longer believe in anything or anyone
“We continue to observe with anxiety that some of our Catholic faithful behave in a manner that is not always equal to one’s Christian faith. Some no longer believe in anything or anyone, to the point of leaving their fate in the hands of unscrupulous and unethical people who shamelessly exploit them,” said Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia. Adding, “However, faith invites us all to identify signs of hope and to be involved in the positive transformation of our society. We must keep on living in hope, as Saint Paul urges us to do,” explained Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia. He also said the role of the Christian person in situations of conflict is to become a factor of change.
“Being a Christian in such circumstances means continuing to keep the lamp of hope burning – the lamp of love, forgiveness and reconciliation,” emphasised the Bishop.
Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia further said, despite the many social problems the Church in the Central African Republic faces, it continues to courageously engage in evangelical witness by accompanying the faithful on their spiritual journey.
Catholics, Protestants and Muslims in CAR committed to peace
“The Platform of Religious Confessions in the Central African Republic (Plateforme des Confessions Religieuses de Centrafrique – PCRC) is also a place where commitment and solidarity of the Catholic Church are expressed alongside Muslims and Protestant communities for social cohesion, respect of others and universal brotherhood,” affirmed Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia.
The Bishop has since invited the laity in the Central African Republic to participate in several events that the Church has lined-up for October, as part of the missionary month’s animation.
Pope Francis’ Mission Sunday message for 2020
On Pentecost Sunday, 31 May, Pope Francis released his message for this year’s celebration. Based on a theme taken from the Book of Isaiah, “Here am I, send me,” the Pope’s message says that the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity for mission and service to others.
Who is a missionary?
On World Mission Day, the Catholic Church throughout the world publicly renews its efforts to revitalise, renew, and reawaken ongoing commitment to the missionary movement. The word “missionary” refers to anyone sent. All Christians are sent by Christ to live in the world as witnesses to Christ. All Christians are called to spread the Gospel.
World Mission Day, or Mission Sunday, was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, to remind Catholics about their commitment and support to the missionary work of the Church through prayer and sacrifice.
(Source: Agenzia Fides)