, 26 October, 2019 / 4:17 AM
Informed by fears of the possible loss of Christian identity in the Central Africa nation of Congo-Brazzaville, Catholic Bishops have recently called on the people of God in their country to maintain their identity as followers of Christ, which they have described as a vocation that requires some distinction.
“We would like to remind you that by his particular vocation, a Christian is called to distinguish himself by his behavior: at work, at the office, with the family, in the street, in the neighborhood, everywhere,” reads part of a communique issued at the end of the 48th Plenary Assembly of the Congo Episcopal Conference (CEC).
“At the beginning of Christianity and throughout the history of the Church, it was the testimony of life that gave strength and confidence to the gospel message that Christians spread,” the Bishops have added, reminding the Christian faithful that it is an act of betrayal to claim to be a Christian and not live a life that testifies the values of the gospel.
“Anyone who says he is a Christian and does not behave accordingly betrays his faith,” the Bishops emphasized in their statement availed to ACI Africa Friday, October 25.
Speaking to the theme that guided their Plenary Assembly, “The Christian in society, in the light of the word of God,'' the Congo Brazzaville Bishops decried the loss of morals among the members of their society.
During the Bishops’ weeklong assembly, which had concluded October 13, the Apostolic Nuncio in Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon Archbishop Francisco Escalante Molina briefed the participants on the Framework Agreement signed between Congo and the Holy See, on relations between the Vatican State and the Catholic Church in Congo and which was ratified on July 2, 2019 in Rome.
“On the social level, immorality has taken over the values that once characterized the Congolese, who are now practicing more than surprising practices,” the Prelates lamented, giving examples such as “non-respect for the dead and the elderly, cases of witchcraft, family denial, greed, enthusiasm for illicit enrichment, easy gain, shameful use of corruption and theft, selfishness and individualism.”
The Church leaders attributed the unfortunate turn of events in their country, a former French colony, to the “moral and spiritual corruption of its citizens” and cautioned members of society about the “serious consequences” the country is struggling with, 59 years after independence, which include poor delivery of social services.
“In the field of education, the level continues to fall, despite the efforts of recent years that have reduced the scale of fraud,” the Bishops said and regretted inadequacies in places of learning, including, “the lack of teachers and benches, large rooms, the purchase of notes and passages in the higher class, the traffic of influence during exams and competitions.”
This was not the first time they were “calling Christians for testimony of life through concrete acts in society and in the church,” the Bishops recalled, pointing to their previous Plenary Assemblies with similar themes in 1972, 1983, 1990, 2000, 2003, 2012, 2013 and 2018.
“Today, we are back on this question, because our responsibility for guides ... for the Church, mother and educator, in the service of man asks us to be good pastors in the image of Christ, come to serve and not to be served,” the Bishops stated, citing Mark 10:45.
“We are also sensitive to the call from Pope Francis who invites us to be shepherds who smell like your sheep,” the Bishops reflected.
The Assembly held at Interdiocesan Centre for Works (IOC), Brazzaville also included a brief presentation on the Golden Jubilee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), held during the last week of July in Kampala, Uganda.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa