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Bishops in Africa Foster Pope Francis’ “better kind of politics” in New Year Message

Catholic Bishops in Africa have, in their New Year Message, sought to foster Pope Francis’ call for “a better kind of politics” in the course of 2021 going forward.

In the statement shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, December 30, the leadership of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) highlight some of the challenges the people of God in Africa have had to endure in 2020, urging hope in the fact that “God is with us,” which is the meaning of Christmas.

Making reference to the latest Encyclical of the Holy Father, Fratelli Tutti, Bishops in Africa call on political leaders on the continent to “commit themselves in 2021 to what Pope Francis calls a better kind of politics.”

It is a better kind of politics “Because it is a valuable form of charity and at the service of the common good; it recognizes the importance of people; and protects jobs,” the members of SECAM explain citing sections of Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti.

They express their awareness about the challenge of COVID-19 on the continent saying, “Throughout the Year 2020, the people of Africa, the surrounding Islands and beyond battled with coronavirus pandemic and its devastating and tragic effects.”

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As a way forward, the Bishops call on politicians in Africa “to build better health systems and infrastructure, including the introduction of insurance health care coverage for all the people, and to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines to be used in Africa and the Islands are safe and effective.”

The members of SECAM further make reference to Pope Francis’ Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace saying, “Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.”

They also refer to the Holy Father’s 54th World Day of Peace highlighting the need for “a Culture of Care as a Path to Peace” to be fostered by leaders of various entities in Africa.

In their collective statement signed by the President of SECAM, Phillippe Cardinal Ouedraogo, the Bishops in Africa say “violent conflicts and terrorist attacks were also experienced in a couple of African countries.”

Combined with COVID-19, the violent conflicts “resulted to the untimely deaths of several family members or loved ones,” the members of SECAM say.

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“We reiterate our call on all perpetrators of violent conflicts and terrorist attacks everywhere on the continent and beyond to lay down their arms and seek to resolve all conflicts through mutual dialogue. The Year 2021 should be one of peace,” the Catholic Church leaders in Africa say in their New Year message circulated December 30.

They describe 2020 as “a traumatic year for numerous people across the continent, owing to domestic violence and other intolerable adversities,” adding, “As we begin a New Year 2021, many are still suffering and some may have lost hope even in God. A cloud of uncertainty still surrounds the COVID-19 crisis, nobody knows how long it may take before the sickness will be brought under effective control, and life would return to normal.”

“Dear sons and daughters of the African continent and the Islands, it is a rough, tough, cruel and puzzling moment on several fronts,” the Bishops acknowledge and making reference to Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti say, “The global health emergency experienced during the Year 2020, has demonstrated that no one can face life in isolation and that the time has truly come to dream as a single human family in which we are all brothers and sisters.”

“In this New Year 2021, therefore, let each one of us commit himself/herself to true brotherhood/sisterhood, fraternity, solidarity and care for one another everywhere on the continent and Islands; after all these are values common in every African traditional society,” the members of SECAM urge.

They express their solidarity with all those infected by COVID-19 in Africa and the Islands and offer their “condolences to the families that have lost loved ones.”

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“Be assured that the Church Family of God in Africa accompanies you in her daily prayers and addresses supplications to Jesus, the Incarnate Word for you to live in peace and in good health,” the members of the Ghana-based Symposium say in their New Year message.

They add, “Let us heed the exhortation of the book of Proverbs not to ‘put any faith in our own perception but trust wholeheartedly in the Lord our God; in every course we take in 2021, let us keep in mind that he will see that our paths are smooth.’”

“May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the Queen of Africa, whose Solemnity Catholic Christians celebrate on the first day of the New Year, ensure maternal protection for her children in Africa, the Islands and everywhere,” the members of SECAM implore at the end of their New Year message shared with ACI Africa.