“Justice and Peace at the service of reconciliation and integral development of Africa”
We, Archbishops, President-Bishops of Justice and Peace Regional and National Commissions, Justice and Peace Regional and National Coordinators and/or Secretaries, the Secretary General of Caritas Africa, Representatives of SECAM Experts’ Groups and Working Groups, Members of SECAM Justice, Peace and Development Commission as well as Participants in the SECAM Justice and Peace Commissions 2015 Congress on the topic “Justice and Peace at the service of reconciliation and integral development of Africa”, which was held at Döbra, in the Archdiocese of Windhoek (Namibia) from 11thto 15thMarch 2015, address this message of peace and reconciliation to catholic Christians, to men and women of goodwill, to the governments and public actors of our continent.
We seize this opportunity to thank the Association of the Episcopal Conferences of Southern Africa (IMBISA), the Family-Church of God that is in Namibia, in particular the Archdiocese of Windhoek for their warm welcome and hospitality towards us. We express our gratitude towards the Namibian government for having ensured our safety and for having facilitated our entry and stay in this beautiful country of Southern Africa. We are grateful towards SECAM Partners, particularly CAFOD, MISEREOR, CARITAS AFRICA, whose assistance and solidarity enabled us to hold our Congress successfully. We express our solidarity and our communion to the people of Africa and other continents who are going through crisis and violence situations with their batch of innocent victims and misplaced populations.
In our Continent which is more and more confronted to issues of violence and religious extremism, we analyzed the contribution of the inter-religious dialogue toward the consolidation of peace and the bringing together of peoples and cultures. We are convinced that the inter-religious dialogue coupled with good governance practices by our African leaders constitute a genuine engine for the integral development of our countries. With regard to conflict and confrontation theatres that are often fatal, the Family-Church of God that is in Africa intends to bring her contribution in accordance with her specific mission of evangelization and human promotion. Her priority actions touch mainly education of consciences in order to develop responsible actions that can bring peace between men.
To reinforce her visibility and her voice in decision-making circles, the Family-Church of God that is in Africa initiated in certain regions of our continent a dialogue and consultation framework with the political world. Through this framework known as Catholic Parliamentarians’ Liaison Offices, the SECAM Justice and Peace Commission intend to contribute to the debate on public policies, to facilitate and promote peaceful transitions, democracy and good governance. We invite our African leaders to avoid any manipulation of the fundamental law in order to perpetuate their political mandate.
In the light of the Social Teaching of the Church, we have been challenged by the social issue caused by the phenomenon of migration. Together, we have identified concerns and hopes caused by migration. To make African youth an agent of reconciliation and peace, we recommend pastoral hospitality and welcome: “I was a foreigner and you welcomed me…” (cf. MT 25, 31-40) as well as pastoral consultation and collaboration in order to lay down common rules as regards migration. Having identified the search for better comfort and better living as the main cause of migration for entire families, in particular the young people of the continent, we strongly challenge our leaders to work for the creation of necessary living conditions in Africa for this well-being and better-living through intelligent, responsible, good and sound governance of our resources.
Conscious that the mode of exploitation, management and redistribution of the income drawn from natural resources is one of the main causes of conflicts in Africa, we reflected on the finality of natural resources, on our way of understanding “living together” concept, on our forms of redistributing and sharing both at national and planetary level. Faithful to the Word of God and the Social Teaching of the Church, we affirm that the earth and all that it contains are a gift from God for the whole humankind, which implies fair distribution of goods but also transparent and responsible management and exploitation. Taking into account the United Nations post 2015 Agenda, SECAM published a document about Africa sustainable development.
To respond to the health crisis, including the Ebola virus, the HIV/AIDS pandemics and other diseases such as malaria, the Family-Church of God that is in Africa has to intensify the significant role that she has been playing already for the promotion of social cohesion and national health policies for all because access to healthcare should not be the privilege for some rich people but a right for all. In the name of our preferential option for the most vulnerable and the poor, we strongly affirm that life and human dignity of the human being are sacred and inalienable. The human person being also a social being, our mission is to build a human society that stands against any form of exclusion or discrimination, be it economic, political, cultural or social.
Aware of the fact that we belong to the human family, we cannot be unaware of the climate change issue with its dramatic impact on populations. On our Continent, it results particularly in the ever growing food insecurity which often causes famine in most of our countries. In this context, as Justice and Peace Commissions members and promoters, we denounce the practices of land expropriation of which peasants or farmers are victims. These expropriations are sometimes perpetrated with the complicity of central and local authorities and even with the support of certain multinational companies.
Our Resolutions and Recommendations
1. Co-operation with the Governments in favour of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace
Africa Justice and Peace Commissions are committed to put at the disposal of the governments of the Continent and the Adjacent Islands their contribution and their experiences in favour of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. Moreover, they appeal to all Christ’s faithful disciples to be vigilant and engaged in public affairs, to know how to courageously alert the International Community through a wake-up call for them to work for high ethical intensity world governance. To this end, SECAM has recommended the celebration of the year of reconciliation in Africa from 29 July 2015 to 29 July 2016. The Bishops appeal to the Justice and Peace Commissions in Africa to support and facilitate this august call.
2. Creation of a continental structure of resolution of conflicts
SECAM is committed to create a structure or a continental reconciliation committee in the event of conflicts, a committee that is able to go wherever there is need for mediation. Under the terms of the prophetic, sacerdotal and royal characteristics of their baptism, the Justice and Peace Commissions of the continent and Adjacent Islands invite Christians, first of all pastors and pastoral agents, to break the silence of fear in order to make the prophetic voice of the Church heard and to express the Messianic presence of Jesus Christ in today’s living of the People of God.
3. Creation of an African church network on the management of the Equatorial Forest
Following the example of the Pan-Amazonia Church Network (REPAM), Africa Justice and Peace Commissions are committed to create an African Church Network regrouping in particular the neighboring countries of the Equatorial Forest for transparent and responsible management for this common legacy which is meant for the entire humanity.
We call upon the intercession of Our Lady of the Perpetual Help, the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace and Africa for reconciliation, justice and peace in our Continent.
Done at Dobra, Windhoek, on 15thMarch, 2015
Most Rev. Gabriel Justice ANOKYE, Archbishop of Kumasi, Second Vice President of SECAM, President of SECAM Justice, Peace and Development Commission