T hese words of Pope Benedict XVI, taken from his first encyclical letter God is love (Deus Caritas Est), n. 25), constituted the theme of our week of study and Congress at the end of August and beginning of September, 2012. Cardinal Bernard Agre of Ivory Coast was one the first bishops in 2008 to attend our weeks of study in Rougemont, Canada, about an economic system at the service of the human person and his/her needs. Since then, nearly fifty African bishops have come to attend these seminars, as well as many priests and lay people involved with social justice. After the conclusion of every week of study, there is always an explosion of enthusiasm. Just like our founder, Louis Even, all are in agreement: “This is a light on my path.”
One can say, without any doubt, that this week of study of August 2012, followed by our annual Congress, has been the most successful ever. Four bishops, a score of priests, and several lay faithful, mostly from Africa, really impressed us with their comments and their desire to make this solution of justice known and applied in their areas. You may find, for example, on page 16, the testimony of the Most Rev. Mathieu Madega Lebouakhan, Bishop of Port Gentil, Gabon, and on page 24, the testimony of Mrs. Celine Akouete, a former employee of the West African Central Bank. These testimonies fill us with hope and fire to continue our apostolate work for social justice.
As Benedict XVI said, “Africa is the continent of hope.” Pope John Paul II, during a visit to Africa, had said to the President of Nigeria, on February 12, 1982:
“It is my conviction that all Africa, when allowed to take charge of its own affairs, without being subjected to interference and pressure from any outside powers or groups, will not only astound the rest of the world by its achievements, but will be able to share its wisdom, its sense of life, its reverence for God with other continents and nations, thus establishing that exchange and that partnership in mutual respect that is needed for the true progress of all humanity.”
Great Church events recently took place, or are about to take place, like the International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland last June, and the Year of the Faith (see next page) that begins in October, 2012, and will end on November, 2013. Many of our full-time Pilgrims were present in Dublin for the Congress, and they made a report. (See page 10.) The theme of this Congress was, “The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and between ourselves,” which means that one must never separate the love of God from the love of neighbour, since it is one that love of neighbour that we will be judged at the end of our earthly lives. Good reading!