Africae munus consigned to the Churches of Africa
Cotonou (Agenzia Fides) – “After having signed yesterday the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae munus, I am happy today to be able to deliver to all the particular Churches, through you, the Presidents of the national and regional Episcopal Conferences in Africa, and to Presidents of the Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches … One of the first missions of the Church is the proclamation of Jesus Christ and His Gospel ad gentes, that is to say the evangelization of those who in one way or another, are far from the Church. I hope that this Exhortation will guide you in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus in Africa … Evangelisation presupposes and brings with it reconciliation and it promotes peace and justice”. With these words the Holy Father Benedict XVI accompanied the delivery of the Apostolic Africae munus at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated on Sunday morning, November 20, Solemnity of Christ the King, at the “Stade de l’Amitie” in Cotonou.
In the homily of the Mass, concelebrated by more than two hundred African bishops and a thousand Beninese priests, as well as the participation of the faithful not just from Benin, but also from Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Burkina Faso, the Pope recalled the two main reasons for the celebration: “To give thanks to God for the 150th years that have passed since the beginnings of the evangelization of Benin, as well as an occasion to express gratitude for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome”.Commenting on the biblical readings of the day, the Pope pointed out that today, like 2000 years ago, we are “accustomed to seeing the signs of royalty in success, power, money or ability, we find it hard to accept such a king, a king who makes himself the servant of the little ones, of the most humble, a king whose throne is a cross”. So he turned to all the people who are suffering, the sick, those affected by AIDS or other illnesses, to all those forgotten by society, with these words: “Have courage! Jesus wanted to identify Himself with the young, the sick, the poor; He wanted to share your suffering and see you as His brothers and sisters, to free you from every affliction, from all suffering! Every sick person, every poor person deserves our respect and our love, because through them God shows us the way to heaven”.
Benedict XVI then invited to give thanks to God “for the work accomplished by the missionaries, the ‘apostolic workers’ who come from your homeland or come from other places, bishops, priests, men and women religious, catechists and all those who, yesterday and today, have allowed the spread of faith in Jesus Christ on the African continent “, a special remembrance goes to Cardinal Bernardin Gantin,”example of faith and wisdom for Benin and for the entire African Continent!” Then he remembered that “everyone who has received this marvellous gift of faith, this gift of an encounter with the risen Lord, feel in turn the need to proclaim it to others. The Church exists to proclaim this Good News! And this duty is always urgent!
After 150 years, many are those who have not yet heard the message of salvation in Christ”.In concluding his homily, the Holy Father again highlighted that “the Church in Benin has received much from her missionaries, she must in turn carry this message of hope to people who do not know or who no longer know the Lord Jesus” . He urged “to have this concern for the evangelization, in your Country and among the people of your Continent and throughout the entire world. The recent Synod of Bishops for Africa insistently reminds us: a man of hope, the Christian cannot have lack of interest towards their brothers and sisters. This would be in contradiction with the behavior of Jesus, the Christian is a tireless builder of communion, peace and solidarity, the gifts that Jesus himself gave us. In being faithful, we collaborate in the implementation of the plan of salvation for humanity”.(SL) (Agenzia Fides 21/11/2011)