The Pan African Congress of Catholic Laity concluded last week in Cameroon.
The Congress, following in the wake of the apostolic exhortations Ecclesia in Africa of Blessed John Paul II and Africae Munus of Benedict XVI.
The theme of the Congress, “Being witnesses of Jesus Christ in Africa today: Salt of the earth… light of the world,” was highlighted by addresses by the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanisław Rylko and by interventions by Catholic leaders from throughout Africa.
In agreement with the morning congress presentations by Cardinal Peter Turkson and Professor Marguerite Peeters, Cardinal Rylko challenged the Catholic laity to defend the dignity of the human person and the inalienable rights like the right to life, which no individual, groups, authorities, states can change because it is supreme and comes from God.
Earlier Cardinal Turkson reminded the congress of the affirmation that in the life of the faithful, Christian social commitment and social action flow from the spirituality of discipleship. He also underlined the need for lay commitment to social action especially in places where only they can be the salt and light of the world.
Cardinal Christian Tumi, Emeritus Archbishop of Douala in Cameroon, presided at Sunday’s closing Mass, which took place in Mvolye Basilica in Yaoundé.
In his message to the conference, Pope Benedict quoted Pope Paul VI.
“I would like to recall a few words of the Servant of God, Paul VI, faithful interpreter of the Council: ‘For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new’ (Ap exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 18).
“In this transformation of the whole society, which is so urgent for Africa today, the lay faithful have an irreplaceable role: ‘Through its lay members, the Church is made present and active in the life of the world.
“The laity has a great role to play in the Church and in society. […] The lay faithful, in fact, are “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Cor 5:20) in the public place, in the heart of the world ‘ (Ap. Exhortation Africae munus, 128).
“Women and men, young people, the elderly and children, families and entire societies, all of Africa today looks to the ‘ambassadors’ of the Good News, the lay faithful from the parishes, Communautés Ecclésiales Vivantes, from the ecclesial movements and from new communities who are in love with Christ and the Church, filled with joy and gratitude for the Baptism they have received, brave peacemakers and heralds of true hope,” Pope Benedict said.
Pope: message to the Pan-African Congress of Catholic Laity (Vatican News)
Pan-African Congress of Catholic Laity concludes in Cameroon (Vatican News)