JOHN PAUL II AND AFRICA Cardinal Polycarp Pengo Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Dar es Salaam (Fides Service) - The long ministry of John Paul II as successor of St. Peter the Apostle in relation to the African continent has been truly providential. During all these 25 years of the Pontificate, the African continent has been faced with disheartening events such as wars, famine, diseases like the AIDS pandemic, great poverty, etc.

In such a situation it would be very easy for the Church in Africa to loose hope. But Pope John Paul II saved the situation with his universal message to the world of today: “Do not be afraid”. Pope John Paul II has thus revealed himself as a leader of tremendous faith in the most disheartening conditions. He can rightly be called a man who hopes against all hope because of his great faith in the presence of God among his people: Emmanuel.

For the African Continent the Pope revealed his great faith in a very particular way through the convocation and celebration of the Synod of Bishops for Africa in1994 and the resulting Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: “Ecclesia in Africa”.

During the whole month of the celebration of the above mentioned Synod the African Continent was undergoing one of the most tragic situations: genocidal massacres in Rwanda. In the synod hall, this tragic situation together with many other similar ones facing the countries of Africa was very strongly felt.

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: “Ecclesia in Africa” of the Holy Father is a very clear example of hoping against all hope because God is with his people: the Apostolic Exhortation is not at all blind to the concrete reality of great distress in Africa. The distressing factors are described realistically but always with a positive attitude which gives reason for hope.

In short, His Holiness Pope John Paul II has succeeded very well in inspiring the African Continent with his spirit of great faith enabling the Church in Africa to continue her role of evangelization amidst all the problems.
(Fides Service 14/10/2003)