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At Anniversary in Senegal, Archbishop Advocates for “development that integrates youth”

Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Senegal's Dakar Archdiocese/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

At the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Pastoral Letter published by Catholic Bishops in Senegal during the 1994 crisis, an Archbishop in the West African nation has sought to have the youth empowered through the development initiatives that the country undertakes.

Speaking at the start of the event that had been scheduled for November last year and postponed amid COVID-19 restrictions, Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye said, “Our country yearns for a development that deeply integrates its youth in terms of training, employment and human development.”

“It is necessary for the youths to find in their elders the much-needed example and support, in a country that is disciplined, organized, respectful of laws and regulations, without artificial arrangements, without conditions, a country where the time of those in charge prevails, with citizens capable of answering for their commitments in the city,” Archbishop Ndiaye said during the three-day national forum set to conclude Friday, June 11.

The Archbishop posed, “This raises the crucial question: How can we promote a youth that believes in his country, its culture, capacities, values, and identity as a citizen?” 

The forum, which is being held under the theme, “Building a Senegal of justice and peace”, commemorates the Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops in the West African nation issued on 20 November 1994.

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The Letter was inspired by the multidimensional crisis that affected the country at the time, with visible effects on the economic, social, moral and religious levels through aggravated poverty, erosion of traditional values, the danger of a shift towards intolerance and fundamentalism, and an increased exclusion of minorities.

As a response to these challenges, the Catholic Bishops invited all Senegalese to “a true conversion of our social life; to be exemplary citizens, dedicated, at all levels to the promotion of the common good.”

They underscored the need for food self-sufficiency, local production, local consumption and the development of the internal market.

Addressing participants during the forum in Senegal's Diocese of Thies, Archbishop Ndiaye noted that the session is a “moment of reflection and exchange that seeks to strengthen the contribution of the Church to the construction of a Senegal of justice and peace following in the footsteps of our elder brother Bishops, more than 25 years ago.” 

“We hope that this forum will give rise to a citizenship awareness for a better living together in communion and fraternity, respect and promotion of the common good,” the Local Ordinary of Dakar Archdiocese said.

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Also speaking at the national forum, the Apostolic Nuncio in Senegal, Archbishop Michael Wallace Banach, noted that “the struggle for justice and participation in the transformation of the world appears to be a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, which is the mission of the Church for the redemption of humanity.”

“Thus, for three days, Bishops will examine current issues that affect the country in order to build together a Senegal of justice and peace,” Archbishop Banach said.

He added, “The challenges Senegal is facing today is not foreign to the dynamics of the Gospel which, through the power of the Holy Spirit, frees people from their personal sins and their consequences in social life.”

“Twenty-five years after this famous Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of Senegal, an analysis is needed to evaluate its impact on the society, and make recommendations for the future,” the representative of the Holy Father in Senegal further said.