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“Do justice to creation, it keeps shouting at us”: African Cardinal to Pilgrims in CAR

Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, CAR, during Closing Mass of Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Ngoukomba, Saturday, December 7, 2019

During the concluding Mass of the Annual National Pilgrimage in the Central African Republic (CAR) Saturday, December 7, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga called on the congregation of close to 25,000 pilgrims to make every effort to care for creation and have a sense of responsibility in the example of Mary.

“We should show respect for creation because it keeps shouting at us, given the way we despise it,” Cardinal Nzapalainga said and citing the Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father added, “the Pope underlines in Laudato Si’ that the earth cries out because of the damage we cause her in the irresponsible use and abuses of the goods that God has deposited in her.”

“We must do justice to creation, which is above all the work of God,” Cardinal Nzapalainga continued in his homily addressed to national and international pilgrims who gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Ngoukomba.

“We forget that we ourselves are dust, our own bodies are made up of elements of the planet. Its air gives us breath and its water invigorates us,” the Cardinal, a member of the religious and missionary Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers said at the conclusion of the three-day pilgrimage organized under the theme, “Mary, Mother of the Missionary Church.”

Reflecting on the theme of the pilgrimage and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be celebrated Monday, December 9 since December 8 is a Sunday, the Cardinal highlighted the value of responsibility in the example of Mary.

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“As Mary, God entrust us with a mission a responsibility. He counts on us in our parishes, our families, our places of work to be witnesses and messengers of his love,” the 52-year-old Cardinal told the pilgrims who came from parishes throughout CAR and some countries of the sub-region, including Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon as well as France, Italy, Belgium, USA and Canada.

Giving the example of his country where funds and items given to benefit people affected by floods have been misused, the Church leader lamented, “those who were responsible for providing food and other aid to the victims of floods did not think of anything better than to divert them to their advantage and abandon the victims to their plight.”

“The way in which we are abusing our responsibilities in this country is unacceptable,” Cardinal Nzapalainga decried and added, “The different responsibilities we exercise in the Church and in society should be in conformity with God's plan.”

Referencing corruption as an indicator of irresponsibility in various sectors of his country, the Cardinal said, “This is happening in the various parastatals, churches and even the private sector with several cases of misappropriation of property.”

He added, “The practice of corruption that despises the sense of the common good and kills God's project entrusted to us for the benefit of the nation.”

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“If Mary had confiscated God's project for herself, we would not be the beneficiaries today,” he reflected and added, “Our responsibilities must go beyond regionalist, religious, ethnic, cultural and political barriers.”

The December 5-7 event had pilgrims engage in different activities including Eucharistic celebrations, Eucharistic adoration, recitation of the Holy Rosary, the Way of the Cross, devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, among others.

“Each year, the Archdiocese (Bangui) offers this precious time marked by teachings, exhortations and spiritual preparations in order to live a moment of encounter with Christ under the maternal mantle of Mary our Mother, the Mother of the missionary Church,” Cardinal Nzapalainga remarked.

Referencing the venue of the pilgrimage, the Cardinal said, “The Marian shrine of Ngoukomba, welcoming everyone without distinction of nation, religious denomination and race, means so many spiritual fruits are lived by all. For us it is a reason for thanksgiving to God for his immense love.”