A journal published by the Comboni Missionaries has made an appeal that the second Synod for Africa recently announced by the His Holiness Pope John Paul II be held on African soil, and that much space be allowed for Africa's bishops and non-cleric Catholics.
"There needs to be the courage -and humility- of giving clear signs of recognition of the effective transfer of the center of the Catholic Church from the north to the south. Africa has all the rights of being the place where the second African Synod should be held. The placing of the event in its own central context is essential for its organization and elaboration," says Nigrizia in its editorial of the December 2004 issue.
Nigrizia, as quoted by the inter-congregational organization Vidimus Dominum, hopes that "apart from being a Special Session for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, may the future assembly be a Special Session of Africa for and within the Synod of Bishops."
"Much space needs to be given to the Magisterium of the African Bishops as well as to the experiences of the African Christian communities, often quite surprising, but mostly unknown by the rest of the Catholic Church. These communities are very lay-based: announcing the gospel, preaching, catechesis, formation, management are all activities by and large in the hands of the laity," says the journal.
But before these ecclesial aspects, Nigrizia points the attention on several social and political aspects that need to be clear even before the next Synod. "First of all, it will be necessary to take note of the innovations of the past decade. Among these we note the place in Africa of a democratic and participative society. This 'sign of the times' has to help the Church to truly be a 'family of God'. This is how the first Synod wanted to describe it."
"In the second place," the editorial goes on, "there is currently an African Renaissance, launched in 1994 by Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa. This 'rebirth' sees Africa as a main player at the world level, no longer the 'poor on duty' waiting for handouts from the North, who having squandered Africa for two centuries, [now] has the hide to prescribe 'medicine'. The continent wants to make an inventory of its history and its treasures. The rest of the world is called to give a hand in this rebirth."
Nigrizia says "the continent is today involved in the search for its own unity. A united Africa was the first inspiration for the founding fathers of Africa's independence. The pan-African attitude was then forgotten . . . Now, it has come back in vogue, just as Europe is becoming more a community. A divided Africa cannot resist the aggression of the multinationals, of the powerful financial world and of the superpowers, if it does not make itself seen on the world stage as a commonwealth of nations and peoples. The globalization, defined by some as 'the fourth African invasion' (after slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism) will see it as a loser from the start."
Pope John Paul II made the announcement on November 13, 2004, when he received participants in the Symposium of Bishops from Africa and Europe promoted by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) and the Symposium of the Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). "Considering the wishes of the post-synodal council which express the desires of the African pastors, I take advantage of this occasion to announce that I have the intention of calling a second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops," the Pope said.