Pope Francis to Togo bishops: preserve the African family
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told the bishops of Togo to preserve the “positive aspects” of family life in Africa and that these should be shared at the Synod on the family in October. It is important that these experiences be shared and heard, the Pope said in a discourse written in French and distributed Monday to the bishops who are in the Vatican on their ad limina visit.
The African family’s openness to life and the respect with which people care for the aged in particular, deserve to be maintained and should serve as encouragement to others to do the same, the Pope said.
Marriage, too, the Pope affirmed, is a positive “pastoral reality” despite cultural and legal obstacles. The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to continue supporting families in difficulty, especially in the areas of education and social work, and to prepare couples well for the sacrament of Christian marriage.
Religious life irreplaceable
Religious, the Pope said, have an “irreplaceable” role in the announcement and transmission of the faith in the West African nation and their institutions and apostolate are widely appreciated.
Vocations are numerous in Togo and seminarians receive good training, he added, but care must be exercised so that future priests will remain true and faithful servants of Christ. They must fight against “ambition, careerism, jealousy, worldliness, the seduction of money and worldly things” and seek a life of “sincere celibacy,” the Pope said.
The Church working in cooperation for the common good
Pope Francis applauded the “notable” political and social progress made by Togo in recent years, to which the Catholic Church, he observed, has contributed in the areas of evangelization, human advancement, and in its engagement in justice and reconciliation. In particular, he encouraged the Togolese Church to contribute to the building of society in collaboration with government authorities and public and private institutions working for the common good.
Speaking of interfaith dialogue, Pope Francis observed the peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in Togo but said the culture of dialogue and encounter can be further developed given the current tensions in western Africa.
“Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and consequently, a duty for Christians as for other religious communities,” the Pope added, saying young priests must also be given solid training in interfaith dialogue.