By Fr. Martin Wanyoike, Vatican
The second special assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was finally inaugurated at the St Peters Basilica by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in the presence of 239 Synod Fathers from all across the African continent.
Speaking at the inauguration mass animated by a Congolese Choir together with the Sistine Chapel choir, His Holiness Benedict XVI recalled with great nostalgia his recent experience in the African continent of a people with a great treasure of faith and resources. The pontiff saw Africa as a continent of faith and hope.
However, the Holy Father pointed saw materialism as an ailment in the west that is already infecting the people of Africa. He lamented that the first world had continued to ‘export’ spiritual toxic waste that continued to contaminate the people of our continent. He cited that while colonialism was over politically, it still continued to manifest itself in other areas in Africa.
The pontiff went on to warn of a new ‘virus’ that could hit Africa, namely religious fundamentalism, mixed with political and economic interests. He lamented the spread of this virus with people teaching and preaching not love and respect for freedom but intolerance and violence.
Appreciating the dynamism of faith in our continent, the Pope prayed that the church in Africa would always be a family of true disciples of Christ where the difference between the different ethnic groups becomes a reason for mutual human and spiritual enrichment. He said that though there is poverty, injustice, violence and wars in many countries in Africa, the Church in Africa can give a great contribution to the human family.
Entrusting the proceedings of the synod to the care of Our Lady of Africa, and to the African saints, and to the intercession of St Francis of Assisi whose feast day was observed on Sunday 4th October, 2009, (the inauguration day for the synod), the Holy Father formally inaugurated the special assembly.
The synod begins its sittings today on Monday 5th October, 2009.
The Kenyan delegation is led by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue and has Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth, Archbishop Boniface Lele, Archbishop Peter Kairu, Bishop Philip Sulumeti, and Bishop Martin Kivuva.
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