VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning, at the beginning of the Seventeenth General Congregation, a letter from the presidents delegate and the secretary general of the Synod was read out to the assembly. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the session was attended by the Pope and 217 Synod Fathers.
The text of the Letter is given below:
"To the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
"As Synod Fathers, gathered at the Second Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, we have learned with deep sorrow of the persistent war in the dioceses of the Great Lakes Region, with its consequent destruction, violence and death of innocent people. To avoid being killed, hundreds of thousands of persons have been forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in adjoining countries in extremely perilous conditions. This war gives rise to the worrisome situation of child-soldiers, orphans, those who are maimed and persons with grave physical and psychological problems.
"As Synod Fathers, in solidarity with the president of the Synod, Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, we wish to express our deepest sentiments of fraternal communion with the bishops of the dioceses involved in this inhuman suffering of innocent peoples. At the same time, we turn to the parties concerned, imploring them to replace at once the language of arms with that of dialogue and negotiation. In dialogue, undertaken in mutual respect and peace, all problems can be solved. War, on the other hand, makes everything more difficult, transforming brothers into enemies.
"Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Risen Lord Jesus, we, as Synod Fathers, declare the sacred value of every human life. The commandment 'not to kill' is not only apart of the Decalogue, revealed by God and recorded in the Bible, but a law written in the heart of every person who comes into this world. It is not lawful to kill innocent people for whatever reason, whether it be social, political, ethnic, racial or religious. The blood of the innocent cries to heaven for vengeance, to a God Who sooner or later will judge those who have stained their hands with the blood of the poor, who are His chosen ones.
"While we are reflecting on reconciliation, justice and peace, we implore, through the intercession of the saints born in Africa, the gift of peace so that justice may come about in those areas where it has been gravely missing, and that hearts may open to the grace of reconciliation with God and neighbour, not only in the Great Lakes Region but in all of Africa.
"We entrust our distressed, urgent appeal to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa and Comforter of the Afflicted".
Following the reading of the Letter, the unified list of fifty-four propositions was presented. The propositions will be consigned to the Holy Father to consider as he writes the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. The Synod Fathers also participated in the second vote to elect the members of the ordinary council of the General Secretariat of the Synod.
At the end of each ordinary general synodal assembly, the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat is formed. The Council is comprised of fifteen members; twelve of whom are elected from the Synod, and three designated by the Roman Pontiff.
This afternoon the Synod Fathers will meet in language groups to prepare the collective amendments to the propositions.
SE/SEVENTEENTH CONGREGATION/... VIS 20091020 (610)