Yaoundé, 7 September 2012 - Today’s session at the Pan African Congress of Catholic Laity was opened by Most Reverend Jean Mbarga, Bishop of Ebolowa and consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. He spoke on the topic "The lay faithful of Africa in the Church family of God; a sacrament of communion and of reconciliation". He noted how "the Second Vatican Council with its Constitutions and particularly with the Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, led to the dynamic and successful regeneration of the identity and apostolate of the laity."
In his reading of the reality of the Church in Africa, he said that “the lay ecclesial organizations in Africa are an invaluable force in the Church and for evangelisation”. One of the most discussed topics during the day was collaboration between the lay faithful and ordained ministers. In this regard Bishop Mbarga said that "it is desirable that priests be more aware and learn to accompany the laity with the passion of the year of the Gospel."
In the afternoon, Mgr Miguel Delgado Galindo, Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, spoke on the subject; "Catholic associations, ecclesial movements and new communities: the African continent’s approach".
Echoing the words of Vatican II in the Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, he said that the lay apostolate, if well organised, corresponds to the lay faithful as human beings and as Christians. This is also a sign of the communion and unity of the Church. The right to join together in association is a fundamental right recognised by the Church that derives from the sacrament of baptism. It is not a concession granted by ecclesiastical authority.
He concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that the ecclesial communities of the African continent might have all the charismatic ministries that are needed in order to build up the Kingdom of God.
Mgr Delgado said that his second wish was that “ecclesial movements and new communities born in Africa – a continent described by Benedict XVI as ‘a reserve of life and of vitality for the future, on which the Church can take support’ –, may go beyond the boundaries of their own countries and even of the African continent, and reach out to other local churches in the world in order to give them new life with the vibrancy of their charisms”.
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