TUESDAY
March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 47
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
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POPE URGES INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY IN FAVOR OF MOZAMBIQUE AS CENTRAL AFRICAN BISHOPS DENOUNCE PROMOTION OF WARS

    VATICAN CITY, MAR 5 (ZENIT).- Today, after proclaiming the beatification of 44 martyrs, John Paul II raised his voice a second time to appeal for aid for Mozambique.

    "My thoughts go to the people of Mozambique, who are living through a tragedy of unheard of proportions, caused by great floods that have ravaged a vast part of the territory. International solidarity has spent itself over these days, but there is still much to be done. I encourage all to continue generously in the rescue work to alleviate, in all possible ways, the dramatic situation of these brothers of ours," the Pope said.

    On February 25, while on his trip to Egypt, John Paul II urged international mobilization to assist this country in its emergency. Spokesman for aid agencies fear that the number of victims caused by the floods is much higher than originally estimated. The counting of victims cannot be completed at this time, as the level of water in the affected areas is still very high.

    Hundreds of people in the country have contracted cholera and typhus; the lack of food has forced others to hunt rats, which increases the risk of spreading diseases.

    Joaquim Chissano, President of Mozambique, stated that the first stage of reconstruction will require at least $250 million. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have announced that they will increase credits and speed up funding to the Maputo government.

    Meanwhile from the heart of Africa has come an anguished cry, denouncing the West's indifference to a terrible tragedy. Central African bishops have blamed the hypocrisy of Western governments and those of North Africa for ignoring the ongoing war and suffering in the Great Lakes region.

    In a strongly worded message, the Association of Central African Episcopal Conferences addresses fellow Bishops in industrialized nations. "In the name of human and Christian solidarity, we implore you to appeal to your governments, political and economic leaders, and international enterprises to listen more intently to the anguished cry of our peoples, victims of the unbridled desire for profit."

    In spite of constant appeals for peace, the Permanent Council of the Association of Central African Episcopal Conferences, which embraces the Church in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Chad, is acutely aware of "the persistence of armed conflicts and the climate of insecurity."

    In their message, the Bishops allege that the acts of violence and killings are multiplying, while armed militias as well as regular armies, often trained by foreign military, turn to looting and rape. This situation causes the displacement of masses of innocent people. Human rights are trampled, "creating explosive risks," the Bishops point out; poverty, misery, and AIDS have become permanent fixtures in their countries.

    The Bishops put their finger on the sore, and lay the blame squarely on certain foreign and domestic elements. Politicized tribes, lack of transparency in the management of public affairs, the egotism of politicians, and all-pervasive corruption, the gangrenous poison of institutions, are concurrent factors that threaten "the future of our peoples, especially of youth." These are the evils of African societies, but "foreign powers also bear responsibility for the present situation."

    "The unbridled desire for profit, strictly for self benefit, is often detrimental to our countries, and pressures them to corrupt their leaders." The profit motive stops at nothing, and the inestimable natural wealth of the Central African region, "paradoxically has become the source of our misfortune. Whole nations have been subjected to steel and fire for the sole purpose of preserving the interests of this or that foreign country, this or that multinational," the African Bishops denounce.

    In a word, theirs are victim nations of that "unbridled search for profit," in a continent similar to the Gospel figure assaulted by robbers on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, which was emphasized in the exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," and quoted in this episcopal message. There are human beings in "urgent need of Good Samaritans to come to their help," human beings who during this Jubilee Year and more than ever before, hope for justice. ZE00030507 and ZE00030502

          

March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 47
NEWS & VIEWS

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