Living with everybody was at the heart of Jesus’ life. Living like Him is to live in a love that he himself teaches us. As Missionaries of Africa, immense challenges such as indifference, the rise of religious fundamentalism, marginalisation, discrimination, justice, racism, confront us.
Some important developments
In our places of mission, our sensitivity to popular prejudices can create barriers for us and so become a source of discouragement for some. The world is evolving and we are called to evolve with it and to be the stepping-stone for the blossoming of the Mission on this earth. The specificity or specialisation surrounding some pastoral work should not be carried out at the expense of opening up to other works that also embrace our charism.
Confreres living in a particular country can define the specific nature or the specialisation of their pastoral work without neglecting other kinds of pastoral work done elsewhere. If this idea exists in a Province, a Sector or a Section, our specificity might need to be clarified, renewed, and revitalised. In my opinion, no Province can insulate itself by creating obstacles to accepting other pastoral opportunities, which are also part of our charism. Living a bit of our charism to the detriment of the rest of it will not make us “better Missionaries of Africa.” A Province may identify a specific form of pastoral work for itself such as Interreligious Dialogue. Is this because it is specialised in this domain? Does this mean that it will not consider Justice and Peace, Ecumenism or even a parish apostolate… as being also a Gospel value? The desire to be a missionary in an Islamic milieu does not suppress the passion to exercise other missionary aspects of our charism.
We have taken on new commitments in different pastoral activities, which have led us to envisage other ways of seeing and acting in various countries. In our meetings, we have tried to strengthen our involvement in the fields of Interreligious Dialogue, Ecumenism with other Christian Religions, Parish Work, Justice, Peace, and Integrity of the Environment, etc.
It is a challenge for every Province to make all aspects of our charism bear fruit. The order of priorities may change. By doing this we imitate Jesus in his movement of love for humanity.
Some preoccupations for the Maghreb
At the present time in the Maghreb, we only talk about dialogue with Muslims who, it is true, represent a dominant concern. We are also aware that not everybody is Muslim in this area. Consequently, in order not to become too reclusive and being disciples of Jesus Christ, we open up our minds and our fields of apostolate in order to break down the walls, which create obstacles between us Catholics, other Churches of different confessions and with non-Christians. The resources are there. They are founded on the human relationships woven in our libraries and the welcome extended to visitors at the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa and the Basilica of St. Augustine. We also create relationships through our solidarity with migrants and marginalised, in Christian communities, in chaplaincies for foreign students and prisons.
In order to break down the walls between us and other Churches and with non-Christians (Muslims and others), all fields of the apostolate need to be cultivated, and to be explored thoroughly. It is up to us to be more creative in the important developmental processes that we are experiencing today.
Can we really dodge all aspects of our charism as Missionaries of Africa?
May the Holy Spirit open our hearts to other possibilities and developments in the apostolate.
Madoubè René Mounkoro