Advertisement

Catholic Bishops in Africa, Europe Jointly Encourage Fostering of Inter-Religious Dialogue

Logo of the of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Africa and Europe have, in a joint statement, encouraged the fostering of inter-religious dialogue in their respective continents in line with the message of Pope Francis in his October 2020 Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti.

In their joint statement shared with ACI Africa Thursday, June 3 following their two-day virtual seminar, the Catholic Bishops in Africa under their common forum of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and their counterparts under the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) highlight the value of inter-religious dialogue, making reference to Fratelli Tutti (FT).

Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity and social friendship, the Bishops say, “is an invitation to human beings all over the world for a renewed commitment to universal brotherhood, friendship, solidarity and peaceful coexistence.”

“In a world filled with good values, but also full of hatred, hostility, extremism, violence and bloodshed (cfr. FT no. 285), we invite everyone to welcome the Holy Father's heartfelt appeal for inter-religious dialogue as a way of stimulating friendship, peace and harmony and to guarantee religious freedom, which is a fundamental human right for all believers,” members of SECAM and CCEE say in their joint statement issued after their June 1-2 seminar.

Such dialogue, they say, should be “motivated by a sincere openness to transcendent Truth, to God who is the Father of all humanity, with an authentic worship of God and love for our neighbor (cfr. FT no. 282) as the final outcome.”

Advertisement

“In promoting cultural, inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue, and aware that the Church is a mother, we ask that each local church be a house with open doors, to sustain hope, build bridges, break down walls and sow seeds of reconciliation,” the Bishops appeal, and “call for peace especially in all countries that are currently experiencing conflict in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and throughout the world.”

Drawing inspiration from the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, they look toward realizing, in Africa and in Europe, “a Church that serves, a Church that goes out to defend and accompany life.”

“To this end, our mission will continue to be orientated towards the progress of humanity and universal brotherhood, to help build a better world, and thus, reawakening the spiritual energy that can contribute to benefitting society,” members of SECAM and CCEE say in their joint statement.

Convened under the theme, “Solidarity in the promotion of human dignity in the light of Fratelli Tutti,” the two-day seminar aimed to deepen the common responsibility of Catholic Bishops in Africa and Europe for evangelization and the human promotion in their respective continents in particular and the world in general.

In their collective statement, the Bishops reaffirm their “communion and collegiality and commit ourselves to work to promote human dignity, fraternity and solidarity, which are at the heart of human life and peaceful coexistence.” 

More in Africa

“As children of the one Father, we must be open to one another and work hard to build genuine brotherhood not only among our local communities but also with people of different cultural backgrounds, racial and ethnic identities, religious and political positions, social and economic status,” they say.

They call on political leaders, state authorities and bodies such as the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations “to ensure the practical implementation of laws and protocols that enhance solidarity and promote human dignity.”

In particular, the Bishops seek the realization of frameworks that foster “the promotion of life, family, educational and religious freedom as well as the welcome and integration of migrants.”

They also push for protocols that can guarantee “fair and universal access to Covid-19 vaccines.”

“As pastors, we recommit ourselves to an inclusive culture and worldview, which for us Christians is that of Jesus Christ, where all members consider themselves 'one' and are at home with each other as the family of God,” the Catholic Bishops in Africa and Europe say.

Advertisement

Making reference to SECAM’s Kampala Document, the Bishops add, “The salvific culture that comes from God ‘transcends all cultural traditions, because all cultures find in it their fullness of meaning.’”

“We believe that our two continental episcopal bodies will continue to study and share experiences for the good of our peoples, and work tirelessly to bring an end to prejudice, intolerance, hostility and violence everywhere,” the Bishops further say.

They implore, “We entrust to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, and to Saint Joseph, our commitment, as well as that of our priests, deacons and all the faithful to pray and to promote peace, solidarity and human dignity, not only in our communities but also throughout society as a whole.”