Martes, 08 de noviembre de 2016

Tras su visita pastoral a Malawi, el cardenal Fernando Filoni llegó a Zambia en la tarde de ayer, 7 de noviembre y se reunió de inmediato con la Conferencia Episcopal, en Lusaka, llevando el saludo y la bendición del Papa Francisco, y expresando su agradecimiento como prefecto de la Congregación para la evangelización de los Pueblos, por el compromiso y dedicación de los obispos a la evangelización.

Visit of His Eminence Card. Filoni to Zambia

7-10 November 2016

Meeting with Bishops, Lusaka, Zambia

Address to the Bishops of Zambia


Monday, 7 November 2016


Your Excellency, the Nuncio to Zambia,

Dear President of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia,

My Brothers in the Episcopacy,


1. Greeting: It is a great joy to be with you today in this country so adorned with beauty, such as Victoria falls, and abundantly blessed with cultural diversity, many natural resources and, most importantly, the Christian Faith. Having been sent by Pope Francis as His Special Envoy to Malawi on the occasion of the Consecration of the Cathedral in Karonga, I am happy to be able to spend a couple of days encountering the many components of the People of God in Zambia: priests, religious men and women, seminarians, civic officials and many dedicated lay faithful. This particular occasion is one of honor as I meet with you, the Shepherds of the Church here in Zambia. As with your Ad Limina Visit to our Missionary Dicastery in Rome two years ago, my presence now is again an expression of our closeness and attentiveness to your Church. I also have the unique honor of conveying to you Pope Francis’s personal greeting as well as his Apostolic Blessing. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I would like to thank the Episcopal Conference and each of you individually for the cordial welcome and for your dedicated service to the Church’s mission of evangelization. 

2. The Church in Zambia: As Pope Francis pointed out during your Ad Limina Visit to Rome in 2014, “It is at once evident how plentiful the spiritual harvest in your vast land is – blessed with Catholic-run clinics, hospitals and schools, many parishes alive and growing across Zambia, a wide diversity of lay ministries, and a substantial number of vocations to the priesthood.”[1] However, I am also well aware of the challenges facing your beloved Country at this time: stressed agricultural production because of drought, unemployment, the resulting poverty felt by many, and the terrible affliction of HIV/AIDS and malaria. This is in addition to the cultural challenges brought about by the many different ethnicities, which still struggle to overcome tribal divisions. Nevertheless, what rises above these difficulties is the good work carried out by you bishops who, when speaking with one voice, effectively promote catholic values, the values necessary for good political engagement, and the importance of unity. 

3. Evangelii Gaudium: Dear brothers, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is a valuable document, because it represents the vision of Pope Francis for the Church in the coming years. The Pope says that the joy of the Gospel is the foundation of evangelization. The joy of the Gospel grows from and is renewed by a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which results in a change of life and a renewed desire to share the love of Christ with others. In fact, joy, by its nature, always wants and needs to be shared. “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (EG, n. 8). The desire to evangelize is the natural consequence of this joy, which consists in having encountered the Lord and having been renewed by Him. Pope Francis reminds us in his Encyclical Lumen Fidei, referred to also in Evangelii Gaudium, that “The Church does not grow by proselytism but by attraction” (n. 14). There are few things more attractive to the human heart than authentic joy. We are blessed to be in a Christian country, where believers in Christ account for nearly 95% of the population. However, we must constantly be renewed in Christ to bring about growth in the Church, which constitutes only a little over one-quarter of all Christian. The Church must continue to reach out to the poor who, “in their struggle for survival are led astray by empty promises in false teachings that seem to offer quick relief in time of desperation.”[2] 

4. Ad Gentes: Less than a year ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Conciliar Decree “Ad Gentes” on the missionary activity of the Church, which, the document reminds us, springs directly from the very nature of the Church. Through this missionary impulse, the seeds of the faith were brought here to Zambia by the White Fathers and Jesuit Fathers. Small seeds were already present in the culture and customs, such that today the faith has entered into the life of many here. What a joy it is to be here with you in the midst of your Jubilee Celebration of 125 years of Catholicism in Zambia, inaugurated this past August! Dear brothers, you are standing on the shoulders of the great missionaries who so boldly and selflessly labored to bring the Good News to this blessed land. In particular, we remember the tireless efforts of Fr. Van Oosten, M.Afr., and his confreres who, while battling malaria and poor living conditions, found a suitable place to establish the first mission, which they successfully did in 1891 at Mambwe-Mwela. We also honor with our memory the first bishop consecrated on Zambian soil, the Most Rev. Joseph Dupont, M.Afr. Following the lead of these first missionary fathers, many fine men and women have continued the work of evangelization here in Zambia up to the present day. Therefore, we thank God today since “despite the sometimes painful meeting of ancient ways with the new hope that Christ the Lord brings to all cultures, the word of faith took deep root, multiplied a hundredfold, and a new Zambian society transformed by Christian values emerged.”[3] Each of you, dear brothers, must continue to assume the personal responsibility to evangelize, because “the mandate of Christ to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) primarily and immediately concerns [bishops], with Peter and under Peter” (AG, n. 38). And Peter, who came to you in the person of Pope St. John Paul II in 1989 is also present to you today in the person of Pope Francis, in a unique way through me, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as well as through his Representative, the Most Rev. Julio Murat. Please know that we are pleased to hear that the Church here in Zambia still enjoys a strong missionary spirit.

Nevertheless, there is still much work to do. The conciliar document Ad Gentes remains valid still today. The Holy Father Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, citing Redemptoris Missio, reiterated, “Indeed, ‘today missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church’ and ‘the missionary task must remain foremost,’” especially as it pertains to the responsibility of bishops. The bishop, as head and center of the diocesan apostolate, must promote, direct and coordinate missionary activity, as well as encourage all the members of the People of God to participate in the work of evangelization. Priests and religious men and women, as the bishop’s close collaborators in spreading the Gospel, are called to live their proper vocation and charism, so as to become the “salt of the earth and the light of the world.” In the one Body of Christ, which is the Church, every baptized member has received from God a personal call to be a witness to the Gospel in every circumstance in which he finds himself. It is worth noting that the duty of evangelization “is one and the same everywhere and in every condition, even though it may be carried out differently according to circumstances” (AG, n. 6). This means that the path of evangelization is not easy. We certainly must not forget, though, that St. Paul urged that the Word of God be proclaimed regardless of “whether the time is favorable or unfavorable” (2 Tim 4:2). As in many places around the world, here you are facing particular challenges regarding threats against family life and the Gospel values inherent in it. We must continue to “be solicitous whether in or out of season, by supporting this “sanctuary of life” (Africae Munus, n. 42), which is the family, for it is here that the Church’s well-being in Zambia must grow and be fostered.”[4] To carry out the work of “affirm[ing] Catholic couples in their desire for fidelity in conjugal life and in their yearning to provide a stable spiritual home for their children,”[5] together with your priests, you will need patience and fortitude. In this regard we can draw from the example of the African Martyrs who witnessed to hope and the Mercy of God through the exercise of patience and fortitude, especially when faced with the pain of torture and death. Missionary patience will also help promote a culture of dialogue, of which Pope Francis often speaks and which is much-needed on a social and political level here in Zambia. In summary, always remember that “your first duty is to bring the good news of salvation to all.”[6] In this often daunting but necessarily task, know always of my prayers and support and those of the Holy Father. 

5. Additional Encouragement: Dear brothers, please allow me a few additional words of commendation and encouragement. I commend you for the good work of evangelization, as you continue to utilize radio to spread the Gospel, as well as your recent initiatives to involve the use of television. I likewise commend you for your efforts in defense of Catholic values for family life and your pledge to follow the counsel given to you by our Holy Father during your Ad Limina Visit in 2014.

I encourage you to keep promoting vocations to the priesthood, while never being hasty in ordaining a man who may not be properly suited to assume the responsibilities of Sacred Orders. Assist with the good discernment of candidates through the generous support of your Seminaries, staffing them with an adequate number of qualified formators, chosen from among those priests who clearly exhibit good human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral qualities. In this light, I commend you for the efforts already undertaken, with the aid of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter, to properly form your priests for this important work.

In your collaboration as the Bishops of Zambia, be attentive of the need to overcome temptations to distrust and skepticism caused by cultural differences. Your efforts to seek and maintain fraternal communion will be a motivating witness to unity for the People of God and the Zambian society at large. “Continue working with your political leaders for the common good,” while properly educating your clergy about the Church’s teaching on the prudent engagement of politics by ordained ministers.[7]

Finally, I urge you to always strive to love with a fatherly and brotherly love all those whom God entrusts to you. Foremost, have particular care for your priests. “Never tire of being kind and firm fathers to your priests, helping them to resist materialism and the standards of the world, while recognizing their just needs,” with particular attention to those suffering from HIV/AIDS and alcoholism.[8] As Pope Francis gently reminded the bishops during the Seminar for New Bishops this past September, always remember that “your closest neighbor is your priest!” Thus, be always available to your priests and ever patient with them.[9] I thank you for your continued efforts to limit the lucrative motives of some of your priests while striving to bring about greater equity in pay to others. “Continue also to promote the treasure of religious life in your Dioceses, so that outstanding examples may be brought forth of Zambian men and women seeking to love the Lord with undivided hearts.”[10] Also, I encourage you to remain always present and available to the lay faithful, who are an integral part in the work of evangelization in Zambia. As Successors to the Apostles you are called to a life of fatherly service, not “being served” as the authority figure, rather leading by example in generously giving of yourself in service to others, as Jesus himself teaches us. Finally, strive to limit the time spent outside of your Diocese, for your priests and all the faithful need you. 

         6. Conclusion: As I conclude this brief reflection, I would like to express to you, dear brothers in the Episcopacy, a word of appreciation, on behalf of Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for your hard work and dedicated service in our shared mission of evangelization, for your generosity in pastoral work and for your praiseworthy communion with the Holy Father. May the People of God in Zambia continue to “receive the gift of the Gospel from you with fresh vigor, as you offer them Christ’s joy and mercy anew.”[11]

I entrust each one of you, your Dioceses and your pastoral ministry to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Africa. May the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the African Martyrs, strengthen in you the desire to serve the Kingdom of God, with all your heart and all your strength, in solidarity with the Holy Father and with one another. We remain always united in prayer. God bless you! 

[1] Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia, Monday, 17 November 2014.

[2] Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia, Monday, 17 November 2014.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia, Monday, 17 November 2014.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, 19 November 2011, n. 103.

[7] Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia, Monday, 17 November 2014.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Cf. Pope Francis, Homily at an Episcopal Consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica, Saturday, 19 March 2016.

[10] Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia, Monday, 17 November 2014.

[11] Ibid.

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