Africa: African missionary priests come to Europe

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since October 24, 2009, expressed his thoughts at length in the February 24 issue of L’Osservatore Romano.

 One of the primary concerns of the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Coast, Ghana, was to ascertain Pope Benedict XVI’ s expectations of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. “He is the head, and the purpose of all the dicasteries is to help him lead the Church in her mission and ministry. I would not have my objectives differ from his.” “What harms Africa the most,” the cardinal reminded his readers, “is that the rest of the world regards it as a small, uniform country area in which each problem affects everybody.”

He then asked the Western countries to “put a stop to this tendency to generalize events and experiences on the African continent” and “to speak only of stereotypes.” “Africans would appreciate it much more,” he continued, “if those who take an interest in Africa or speak about it realized that they are dealing with a large continent composed of 50 countries, with different cultures, histories, political experiences, and economical situations.”

Therefore, “instead of speaking of Africa generally, as a continent that has always had to suffer from a lack of peace, one must name specifically the countries of Africa that suffer from these situations.” Moreover, “apart from the ‘natural causes’ (such as the hostile environment in desert and rainforest areas), the lack of peace and justice in certain parts of the continent must not be blamed on the hearts of Africans,” he added.

Cardinal Turkson, also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments as well as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, pointed out that the lack of peace “is chiefly related to politics, bad government, exasperation of ethnic and religious differences, an economy that maintains Africa in the state of a market place for the manufacturing countries, the rest of the world’s need of its mine resources, the new forms of colonialism, when it isn’t slavery, and constraints of a religious nature.” “And Africans,” he further declared, “are beginning to realize that fact.”

The Ghanaian Cardinal expressed concern about the “loss of the Faith” in the West, once the land of missionaries, which runs the risk of leaving the Church of Africa an “orphan”. He thus warned against the “real danger” represented by the “tendency to lose the Faith that is spreading ever more and more in the lands of the missionaries, those same missionaries that left their homes to preach the Gospel on African territory.” The Cardinal showed the extent of the “filial piety of the Churches of Africa towards the Church in the homeland of their missionaries and the duty they feel to support them, even with the miserable resources at their disposal.” That is why “they often send one of their priests to prevent a church from being closed for lack of priests.”

Today, there is an “ever growing number of African priests in the world.” “And that is a grace of the Lord.” Cardinal Turkson also evoked his great preoccupation for the insufficient formation dispensed in Africa, as much among laymen as among priests, (…) which leads to superficiality. He emphasized that Christianity refers to an event, an experience, and ultimately to a conversion. Too often catechesis has been diverted, limiting Jesus to a set of ideas and information and not to a doctrine or a personal experience. “In the seminaries we have young men who have never had a concrete experience of Jesus, who only have a vague idea of Jesus and that is bound to continue indefinitely,” he lamented. “No one can give what he does not have.” And “perhaps the same problem exists in the West.”

Lastly, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace spoke of “solidarity” as “one of the virtues by means of which Africa can help give a meaning to the search for peace in the world.” “That applies not only to relations with other nations and other peoples – thanks to whom this solidarity manifests itself as solicitude and reciprocal responsibility – but also to the relations between humanity and creation”. “The dependence of human life on creation demands therefore a certain solidarity between man and nature, and a wise and responsible usage of natural resources,” stated the Cardinal. “In many countries this relation between man and nature is regulated by precise laws and agreements.” Where it is not so, as in certain regions in Africa, the abuse of creation becomes a real threat for the life and peace of humanity.