Jacques Ngol, SJ – Vatican city.
The meeting of the permanent members of the Association of Central African Episcopal Conferences (ACEAC) provided an opportunity to “give thanks to God for the gift of life in the New Year 2024” and to discuss security issues in the sub-region. During the meeting, the Bishops also examined the summary report on the work of the first session of the Synod on Synodality, held in Rome from 4 October to 29 October. They expressed the wish to “continue to prepare as a sub-regional Church for the second phase.”
Bearing witness to the faith in perilous conditions
Discussing the “socio-pastoral situation prevailing in the dioceses of our three countries in the Great Lakes sub-region,” the Bishops expressed “their gratitude and encouragement to the many Christians who bear witness to their faith in sometimes perilous conditions, without giving in to the threat of the prevailing secularism.” They also commended the pastoral agents living in some dioceses’ most remote corners. Furthermore, ACEAC members pledged to support and visit the Kiziba refugee camp in the Diocese of Nyundo.
Call to build bridges between states
Given the tense socio-political situation prevailing in the Great Lakes region, the Bishops said they regret the deterioration of inter-state relations. They have since called for “the building of bridges rather than the erection of walls between hearts, peoples and nations.”
The regional prelates were particularly concerned about “the life and survival of average households” following “the recent measure to close the land borders between Burundi and Rwanda.” They called for “dialogue as a solution to the crises affecting the sub-region and offered their prayers for any initiative likely to improve living together”.
A Mass for peace in the Great Lakes region in Goma
Faced with the growing threat of conflicts that handicap peace in the Great Lakes region and the “resurgence of cross-border tensions,” the prelates implored “the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that he may triumph as on the day of Pentecost over current differences
In addition, all the ACEAC Bishops plan to travel to Goma, the capital of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for a Mass to pray for peace in the Great Lakes region.