Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stand up against death penalty, Church told

Bishop George BIGUZZI, bishop of Makeni and president of the Episcopal Conference of Sierra Leone has urged the Synod Fathers to unequivocally call for total and universal abolition of the death penalty.

Speaking at the Synod of Bishops in Rome, the bishop criticized the brutal treatment of war prisoners and the recruitment of child soldiers calling them crimes against humanity.

“The prophetic voice of the church is needed even when there were no many listeners," he said.

Traumatic Conflict
Meanwhile, Bishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu diocese in Uganda recounted the violence that children in his Gulu diocese have had to bear.

As a result of armed conflict in the region between the government and the Uganda’s Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA) rebels, Bishop Odama said that between 20,000-30, 000 children have been abducted and called for respect for life.

Gulu diocese, the birthplace of Joseph Kony, commander of LRA rebels, has experienced immense suffering, with 90% of the population being displaced as a result of the conflict.

Africa, a Missionary Continent
Speaking at the same gathering, Fr. Speratus KAMANZI, Superior General of the Apostles of Jesus said Africa had now become of age and has become a missionary continent.

He saw the prophecy of Pope Paul VI in 1969 in Kampala, of Africans being missionaries to themselves, as being fulfilled. However, Superior of the Apostles of Jesus which has 400 members, called for more support and encouragements for these missionaries.

He further criticized immigrants to Europe and America, disguising themselves as missionaries, yet are not mandated by any church authority.

HIV/AIDS Stigma too heavy to bear
The AIDS Pandemic has not escaped the attention of our church fathers either.

Archbishop Boniface Lele of Mombasa lamented how people have become tired of hearing or even of talking of HIV/AIDS, including church ministers.

Terming the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS as 'too heavy for anyone to bear alone', Archbishop Lele called for a concerted approach to the pandemic.

He urged the church leaders to be more available to mentor the youth.

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