In addressing the challenge of corruption, AFJN officials want the Holy Father to specifically mention “nepotism and favoritism”, which they say “continue to hamper productivity and prosperity in most African countries. Corruption is widespread, whether Christianity or other faith traditions form the majority.”
They want Pope Francis to include the challenge of discrimination during his six-day visit to Africa because “tribalism, xenophobia, and racism continue to claim lives and divide communities across the African continent.”
Discrimination based on tribe, AFJN officials tell the Holy Father, “Has led to countless deaths in Africa including most recently the two countries you are visiting – DRC and South Sudan.”
“In South Africa, xenophobic violence against African immigrants has been an all-too-common occurrence,” they say, and add, “Racism and xenophobia against sub-Saharan African migrants journeying to Europe for a better life is on the increase.”
Officials of the entity that describes itself as “an extension of missionary witness in the different yet important arena of US political decisions that affect African people” say it is important that the Holy Father speaks against discrimination because there is no justification for it.
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They say, “No matter the reasons, violence, hatred, discrimination, and hostility against anyone based on origin, ethnicity or race has no merit and must be condemned in the strongest terms and fought. Politicians and church leaders must become models of tolerance in order to build nations and communities of peace and prosperity.”
Officials of the entity that relies on individual and organizational membership, many of the latter being Catholic missionary communities in the US and Africa want the Holy Father to address the challenge of land grabbing, which they say is “often disguised as investment” and “has led to a new scramble for the partition of Africa.”
They explain, “As of June 1, 2022, data by Land Matrix shows that 12,543,089 hectares (125,430.89 square kilometers) of Africa’s arable land has been grabbed by foreign agribusinesses. These lands have been had for as little as $0.50 per hectare per year for up to 99 years, subject to renewal.”
“In the DRC, the land acquired by multinationals totals 52,147.42 km2, which is a little more than the size of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” they say about one of the two countries the Holy Father is to visit.
AFJN officials say, “The acquisition of Africa's land on a large scale by multinational agribusinesses amounts to an organized land-grabbing scheme with potential consequences worse than colonization.”
Land grabbing, they further say, “threatens lives, livelihoods, the environment, the peace and the sovereignty of the affected countries. Populations are being displaced and landowners are becoming landless.”
AFJN officials regret the fact that “Prohibited toxic fertilizers and pesticides are being used on these lands, causing serious damage to rivers, lakes and even underground water sources.”
They lament, “The current rate at which Africa is losing much of its arable land, threatens the continent’s food security and sovereignty. This must stop.”
In their June 8 statement, AFJN officials appeal to Pope Francis ahead of his third trip to Africa, saying, “Your Holiness, notwithstanding many issues of equal importance including human trafficking, women’s economic empowerment, arms trade, illicit financial flows, drug abuse by youth, and widespread unemployment, we strongly believe that your voice on the issues we have highlighted will have significant impact.”
“We hope that you will consider these issues as you address the people of God in the host countries and that you will call upon Africans and all people of good will to join hands in finding adequate solutions,” AFJN officials say in their three-page letter that is copied to Apostolic Nuncios in DRC and the US.