Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

Walk Together for Reconciliation, Justice and Peace

By Yvon Elenga, SJ

Yvon Elenga, a Jesuit from Congo Brazzaville, suggests a reading of the Lineamenta of the Second Synod of African Bishops. Following is a translation of the starting paragraphs.

The publication of the Lineamenta of the second special assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops in Rome on June 27, 2006, marks the beginning of a process of reflection and sharing, questionings and proposals which will characterize the pre-synodal period. The convening of this second meeting was the concretization of the pledge made by Pope Jean-Paul II on November 13, 2004. The Holy Father wanted a gathering meant to be the continuation of the 1994 whose synodal exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa (1995), constitutes in itself a reference document for the present Lineamenta. This transpires in the guiding questions for the next synod: “What has Ecclessia in Africa accomplished? What has the Church in Africa done with Ecclessia in Africa? What remains to be done, using its guidelines in response to the evolving situations on the African continent?” The synod would like “to assist the Church in her evangelising mission as she confronts the challenges created by dehumanising and oppressive situations which afflict the African peoples; and to arouse renewed interest in the objectives of the Apostolic Exhortation which were proposed and are re-proposed to Christians and all people of good will.” (Lin. 1).

The topic chosen for the second synod is not new. “Justice and peace” was already one of the points of the preceding assembly’s Lineamenta. It appeared next to themes of the first evangelization, inculturation, interreligious dialogue and the social means of communication to the service of evangelization. It was also the subject pastoral guidelines of the African episcopate. By attaching to this existing theme the topic of reconciliation, Benedict XVI definitely opts for an approach that would take into account the troubled context of a continent caught in conflicts and injustices, but also a continent with many rays of hope. If “righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (PS 84:10), they have still to find their particular way of expression in a continent which was not spared from the logics of conflicts. Such is the pastoral motivation of Lineamenta. With this general topic, they pave the way once more to reflection for a better redefinition of the social teaching of the Church in Africa.

The following lines propose a directed reading of these Lineamenta. By locating it in the prolongation of this heritage which is the social teaching, we try to show how the next synod recalls on the agenda the relationship of Church/Society often described simply in their pastoral dimension, that of evangelization stricto sensu.

To see the original text in French go to: Yvon on the Lineamenta (PDF document).