From all of us in the General House
to all of you, wherever you are,
we wish you a holy and prayerful
From 21 to 24 February, the presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world responded to Pope Francis’ call to come to Rome to the Vatican to reflect together on how best to respond seriously to this unprecedented crisis facing the Catholic Church today. The sufferings of so many men and women, children and young people call for a determination on the part of the whole Church. During these three days, several speakers followed one another to address different topics based on the three areas of reflection proposed by the organizing committee: Responsibility, Accountability, Transparency.
All the conferences can be found on the VaticanNews YouTube channel. This summit was also punctuated by several testimonies of victims previously recorded in audio or video. These testimonies allowed those among the speakers who had never heard from victims to discover the extent of the suffering they had endured. Participants also worked in language groups.
What should we remember from this summit?
It is possible to read many analyses in different languages in the online press, indeed 450 journalists were accredited, mainly from the English-speaking world. But for us, here is what we can learn that is important.
This meeting is just one step in this immense project which is to respond to the suffering of the victims with compassion and mercy. It is also a step in the process of conversion of hearts necessary for real preventive work to make the Catholic Church a safe home for children and the most vulnerable. In his final speech, Pope Francis set 7 priority axes of work for the whole People of God and more especially for the bishops of the whole world, here they are summarized with his words (Excerpts from the final speech):
These are seven priorities that Pope Francis has set for the bishops and major superiors of consecrated congregations and institutes of consecrated life, but also more broadly for the whole People of God.
To complete this roadmap, other measures will come: produce a Motu proprio on this question; offer a practical guide for bishops and major superiors to help them in their mission; “task forces / teams of experts” may also be created to help local churches that have more difficulty finding material and human resources to fight against this evil that spares no particular church or human community.
Let us make this roadmap our own.
Useful links :
Chaine YouTube de VaticanNews pour voir ou revoir les conférences :
En français – https://www.youtube.com/user/vaticanfr
In English – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxIsefyl9g9A5SGWA4FvGIA
Also exists in other languages
Many interviews and articles on www.vaticannews.va
The monthly JPIC promoters meeting was held on the 20th of February 2019 at the headquarter of UISG in Rome. This meeting was organised by the African Working Group and focused on the topic “State of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa: providing keys for better understanding of the expansion of Islam”.
After the opening prayer prepared by Sr. Ignatia Asoh (TSSF) and Sr. Caroline Njah Bongnavti (SUSC), and the presentation of the 20 participants of various Religious congregations and institutes, Fr. Mariano Tibaldo (MCCJ) introduced the speaker. Fr. Felix Phiri is former Director of the Islamic studies in the Tangaza University of Nairobi and former Professor and lecturer at Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamology Studies (PISAI). He is at the moment actually in charge of the Southern African Province of the Missionary of Africa.
At the beginning of the conference, Fr Phiri explained the territorial expansion of Islam in its early existence. Next, he focused more on the Islam in sub-Saharan Africa showing how Islam spread in Africa. The speaker then stressed the conceptual frameworks underlying the Islamic expansion. He offered comprehensive explanation about “Da’wah” which refers to Islamic missionary activities in modern period. He stressed the different types of “Jihad”, the inner and outer jihad, and its extremist forms which are actually spreading out in various African Countries such as Nigeria, Mali and Kenya.
The Da’wah movement is encouraged by several agents of Islamic propagation, such as Islamic governments, Muslim International Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and individual Muslim Initiatives. The Islamist infrastructure worldwide relies heavily on “zakat”, the mandatory charity demanded by Islam, usually 2.5 percent of one’s annual earnings.
The agents of Islamic propagation explore various strategies such as media, schools and universities, social welfare projects as well as funding of mosques, Islamic centres and madrassas. There are also different ways used to national politics, economy, society, family life, education, language and daily cultural habits.
Fr. Phiri concluded by saying that although a religion with a universal outlook, Islam foresees a coexistence with other religions. In its expansionist thrust, Islam needs no one’s permission, emphasised Fr. Phiri, on the contrary Muslims would gladly see Islam become more accepted in society. (click here for the content of the conference)
During the second part of the conference, the participants asked questions on cohabitation of Muslims and Christians. The answers given by Fr. Phiri were clear and realistic. He encouraged the participants to live their witness through authentic Christian life in coherence to the message of Jesus. To the question about Pope Francis’ landmark visit to the United Arab Emirates, the speaker underscored the important gesture of encounter, the coming as a friend, the importance of collaboration between Muslims and Christians.
At the end of the conference, the moderator, in the name of all participants, expressed deep gratitude to Fr. Felix Phiri for his very interesting and impressive conference on Islam in sub-Saharan Africa.
Before concluding the meeting, Sr Sheila (executive secretary) gave some information about the future events organised by the JPIC commission.
Andreas Göpfert (MAFR) and Mariano Tibaldo (MCCJ)
Some of you have asked for the written text of this very interesting conference. In the meantime, I have adopted and edited the conference title used in the written version. I also received the Power-Point presentation that I have inserted after the sound file below. For the moment I only have the French versions of those two documents, but the English text of the conference should follow soon.
Gisela Schreyer, archivist of the MSOLA, tells us about the history, little known to the White Fathers, of Mother Marie Salome, considered to be the co-founder of the White Sisters with Cardinal Lavigerie.
Last Thursday, Father Manu Mathew, one of our residents here at the Generalate had organised, invited by the superior of the community, a mass in the Syro-Malabar rite. In this video, we have interviewed him as we show a few extracts of the celebration. You will excuse the short technical imperfections in the rendering of the video.
During the audience, I was only allowed to take pictures from my seat. So I couldn’t take a picture of our group during the audience. Here are three official photos, for which we have purchased the publication rights:
Here is the picture of the thanking word from our Superior General Stan Lubungo.
The handshake of Pope Francis with our Superior General:
And the group photo:
© Servizio Fotografico – Vatican Media
Shortly after the Pope had entered the Hall, our superior general, Stan Lubungo, addressed the Holy Father with a word of thanks in the name of the two congregations. Here is the text :
We, the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa feel very honoured to be with you today. This year we are commemorating one hundred and fifty years of our foundation by Cardinal Lavigerie in Algeria. We give thanks to God for all the graces received during these years. We are very grateful, Holy Father, that you spared some time to be with us despite your very busy agenda.
We praise God for our brothers and sisters who, over hundred and fifty years have brought the Catholic faith to many African countries. They helped establish the African clergy and formed many female African congregations in different countries. Today, we are together present in 41 countries, of which 22 are in Africa. We continue to collaborate with the local Church at whose service we are in parishes and in other ministries.
We inaugurated our Jubilee Year on the 8 th of December last year, on the Feast of Mary Immaculate Conception under whose protection our Founder placed our two Institutes. The inauguration took place in Tunisia where Cardinal Lavigerie was also prelate. The closing celebrations will be on 8 th December this year at Namugongo, the shrine of the Uganda Martyrs.
We give thanks to God. The inauguration of our Jubilee coincided with the beatification of the nineteen martyrs of Algeria, among which are four of our brothers who gave their lives to the service of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the country of our foundation.
Holy Father, on this significant Jubilee for our family, we ask for your paternal blessing on our two Institutes and its members where ever they are as we seek to keep alive the charism of our Founder.
We are happy to offer you a representation of the Manga hoe from Burkina Faso. This invention of one of our confreres in the 50s was designed for weeding and ploughing in shallow soil. It represents so well your task to plough and weed the shallow soils of our hearts sowing in them God’s Word.
Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa
Missionaries of Africa
Most of us were very excited on Friday the 8th of February, as we were being invited by the successor of Peter at a private audience in the Vatican. The two General Councils, brothers and sisters from the two congregations, a few provincials already in the house for the forthcoming provincials’ encounter with the GC, some 80 persons all together were well in time to meet the Pope at 11am. The number of steps we had to climb was, to the least, very impressive, but finally there we were in the Clementine Hall, waiting for our Brother and Pastor Francis. A very official encounter, very comforting and meaningful to each one of us.
Here is the text of his address to us. The original was in Italian, we had a French translation. This English version is a translation from the French by your servant, with the help of the very good software deepl.com
Dear brothers and sisters,,
It is with great joy that I welcome you to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Society of Missionaries of Africa and the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa. In thanking your Superiors General for the words they have addressed to me, I wish to express my cordial greetings and spiritual closeness, as well as through you, to all the members of your Institutes, present in Africa and in other parts of the world. Thank you for the service of the mission of the Church, lived with passion and generosity, in fidelity to the evangelical insights of your common founder, Cardinal Lavigerie.
Over the past three years, you have been preparing to celebrate this jubilee. As members of the great “Lavigerie family”, you have returned to your roots, you have looked back on your history with gratitude, to give you the means to live your present commitment with a renewed passion for the Gospel, and to be sowers of hope. With you, I give thanks to God, not only for the gifts he has given to his Church through your Institutes, but also and above all, for the fidelity of his love that you celebrate with this Jubilee. May this Jubilee Year strengthen in you the assurance that “God is faithful, he who has called you to live in communion with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor 1:9). May your consecration, your ministry thus be able to manifest concretely, in your fraternal life and in your various commitments, the fidelity of God’s love and its closeness, to sow hope in the hearts of those who are wounded, tested, discouraged, and who feel abandoned so often.
Dear friends, you know that when Bishop Lavigerie, then Archbishop of Algiers, was led by the Spirit to found the Society of Missionaries of Africa, then the Congregation of Missionary Sisters, he had in his heart the passion for the Gospel and the desire that it be proclaimed to all, making himself “everything to all” (cf. 1 Cor 9:22). For this reason, your roots are marked by Mission ad extra; it is in your DNA. Thus, following in the footsteps of your founder, your primary concern, your holy concern, “is that so many of our brothers and sisters live without the strength, light and consolation of the friendship of Jesus Christ, without a community of faith that welcomes them, without a horizon of meaning and life” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 49). But, in the light of the journey made since your foundation, you know that the proclamation of the Gospel is not synonymous with proselytism; it is this dynamic that leads us to be close to others, to share with them the gift received, the encounter of love that has changed your life and that has led you to choose to consecrate your life to the Lord Jesus, Gospel for the life and salvation of the world. It is always with him, through him and in him that the mission is lived. So I encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, so that you never forget that the true missionary is first and foremost a disciple. Have at heart to cultivate this particular bond that unites you to the Lord, by listening to his Word, celebrating the Sacraments and serving the brother, so that your words and actions may manifest his presence, his merciful love, his compassion to those to whom the Spirit sends you and leads you. May the celebration of your jubilee thus help you to become “nomads for the Gospel”, men and women who are not afraid to go into the deserts of this world and seek together the means to lead their fellow human beings to this oasis that is the Lord, so that the living water of his love may quench all their thirst.
May this Jubilee Year also contribute to the development of fraternal bonds between you, because the proclamation of the Gospel can only be lived at the price of true missionary communion. With the strength of the Holy Spirit, be witnesses to this hope which does not disappoint (Cf. Rm 5:5), despite the difficulties. In fidelity to your roots, do not be afraid to venture out on the paths of mission, to witness that “God is always a newness, which urges us to leave without respite and move beyond what is known, towards the peripheries and borders” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, n. 135). May the Holy Spirit make you build bridges between people. Where the Lord has sent you, contribute to the growth of a culture of encounter; continue to be the servants of a dialogue that, while respecting differences, knows how to be enriched by the difference of others. And I thank you in particular for the work you have already done in the service of dialogue with Islam, with our Muslim sisters and brothers. Through the style and simplicity of your lifestyle, you also demonstrate the need to take care of our common home, the land. Finally, in the wake of Cardinal Lavigerie, be sowers of hope, fighting against all current forms of slavery. Always seek to be close to the small and the poor, to those who expect, at the periphery of our societies, to be recognized in their dignity, to be welcomed, protected, raised, accompanied, promoted and integrated.
With this hope, by entrusting you to the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, I give you and all the members of your communities the Apostolic Blessing and I call upon God’s blessings on those whose lives you share, where the Lord has sent you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.
February 8th, 2019
After the opening Eucharistic celebration in Rome, some eight participants were interviewed by Freddy Kyombo. The editing is by your servant. These are the ones who were interviewed:
And here is the video of the interviews:
n.b.: You will find all the videos on this “playlist”.