MESSAGE OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF THE PEOPLE ON THE OCCASION OF THE 18TH PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE ASSOCIATION OF MEMBER EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES IN EASTERN AFRICA (AMECEA)
Dear Brothers and sisters in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
On behalf of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I greet all of you, members of Association of Member Episcopal Conference in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), with the peace and joy of Our Lord. The growth and achievements of the Church in your jurisdiction are largely due to the heroic and selfless dedication of the many generations of missionaries, who came there in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Mt 28:19-20).
It is within this missionary spirit that I would like to invite you, members of this Conference, to reflect on the teachings of Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, the document which programmatically presents his Ecclesiastical vision, that of promoting a Church which goes forth, an eminently Missionary attitude. Also in our days, Jesus continues to command us to “go and make disciples”. Everyone is highly encouraged to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. The Holy Father insists that “each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel” (EG 20).
The AMECEA, inspired by its vision, “Holy Spirit-filled family of God”, must continue to preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel, as the Holy Father teaches, is for all people, no one is excluded (EG 23).
I would like to call your attention to the forthcoming Synod in Rome in which the Holy Father has asked us, through prayers and reflection, to discover the fundamental Christian values of the Family. This Missionary Dicastery will continue to support you in your efforts to strengthen and enrich those to whom marriage and family life have been entrusted. The Second Vatican Council in its solicitude for the family reminds us: “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children…” (Lumen Gentium, 11; cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11).
Dear Brother Bishops, as the first agents of the New Evangelization in the midst of the challenges that now face us, allow me to take this opportunity as well to thank each of you for the pastoral, apostolic, and social activities that you have undertaken in order to build up the Church in this Region, making every Effort to assure that she is a real and effective instrument of salvation for the people who benefit from her services, and salt and light to the African continent.
Even as we talk of greater zeal for evangelization, we should not forget that there are countries in the Region that are still suffering from conflicts and wars which hinder missionary activities and the promotion of human development. My heart goes out to them with special sentiment and prayer, asking the Risen Lord that peace, justice, understanding and fraternal communion may reign. Continue to be instruments of peace in communion and mission.
Finally, I entrust the Catholic community under the care of AMECEA to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Missions and Queen of Evangelization. I pray that she may obtain for you the power of the Holy Spirit to guide you in your missio ad gentes for the good of the Church.
Fernando Cardinal FILONI, the Prefect
Archbishop Savio HON TAI FAI, the Secretary
(From archive of Vatican Radio)