19 February 2013

Africa: Prioritize Poverty-Eradication, Bishops Urge African Leaders

Accra — Catholic bishops from Africa and Madagascar, who form the continental body of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar, SECAM, have urged political leaders in Africa to prioritize poverty -eradication within their leadership policies.

In their pastoral message issued today-February 19 and under the title: Governance, the Common Good and Democratic Transitions in Africa the Bishops said, "We urge political leaders in Africa to ensure that poverty-eradication is prioritized by using proceeds from the continent's natural resources. This should be addressed through denouncing all forms of corruption, which is a cancer in our midst. Also political leaders and governments to address the issue of elections, which should be free, fair, transparent and non-violent," stressed the Bishops.

The Pastoral Letter clearly urges that everyone has a responsibility to contribute to the Common Good of all members of society. A better society is not for the benefit of the elite but for all. The way in which we organize our society directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow together in community and contribute to the Common Good, said a summary note on the pastoral letter, which was presented by The Most Rev Gabriel Mbilingi, Archbishop of Lubango, Angola.

The Common Good is the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. The Common Good concerns the life of all and consists of three essential elements: respect for the person; the social well being and development of the group; and peace, which gives stability and is the source of security for a just order, adds The Most Rev Mbilingi, who is 2nd Vice President of SECAM.

A time for transition from colonial rule and other systems of governance, to democracy in Africa is symbolic, it is an opportune time. A transition creates new opportunities to heal wounds and build bridges. The challenge is to seize the opportunity and its burden of responsibility to redefine the task of the Church and society in general, in working towards building of our nations in Africa, stresses the summary note.

The challenges include the abolition of injustices and the formation of a liberating social order. The Church plays a prominent role as custodian of ethical values, pacesetter in the process of democracy and as one of the main stakeholders in good governance and the common good according to the summary note.

"We would therefore continue to collaborate with governments and other institutions for the integral human development of Africa", underlined the Pastoral Letter's summary note.

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