Rule Fairly – Catholic Bishops Tell African Leaders

African Catholic bishops have called on political leaders to address the question of fairness to ensure that they build a better society not only for “the benefit of the elite but for all”. The bishops, meeting in Accra, asked the continent’s leaders to denounce election rigging and all forms of corruption and prioritise poverty eradication. African leaders should also ensure that proceeds from the continent’s natural resources are distributed fairly. Speaking at the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) at the SECEM secretariat in Accra, Gabriel Mbilingi, Archbishop of Lubango-Angola, second Vice-President of SECAM, said human freedoms expressed through the choice to belong and to express oneself freely in truth “cannot be subject to unnecessary restriction or constraint.” Archbishop Mbilingi was giving the overview of a 16-page bilingual pastoral letter –‘Governance: the Common Good and Democratic Transitions in Africa.’ The publication advocates common good, respect of people’s rights and the promotion of good governance as essential elements of the Gospel. He added that the church’s role in peaceful political transitions in Africa includes liberation, reconciliation and reconstruction. The church also supports the quest for human dignity and participation of all in decisions that affect the quality and direction of their lives. The letter was officially launched by His Eminence, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, President of SECAM and Archbishop of Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. The pastoral letter derives its inspiration from Pope Benedict XVI’s message in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: African Munus No. 23-29. The message is that peace is not merely a gift to be received but a task to be undertaken, and that in order to be true peacemakers we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity and fraternity in being active within the community. We must also be concerned enough to raise awareness about national and international issues and seek adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, co-operation for development and conflict resolution. The mission of SECEM is to promote the church as a family of God in Africa, to preserve and foster communication, collaboration and joint action among all Episcopal Conferences of Africa, and intends to continue to collaborate with governments and other institutions for the integral human development of the people of Africa. Present were members of the diplomatic corps, government official and civil society organisations engaged in governance issues.