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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Ecclesia in Africa

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1. The Church which is in Africa celebrated with joy and hope its faith in the Risen Christ during the four weeks of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Memories of this event are still fresh in the minds of the whole Ecclesial Community.

Faithful to the tradition of the first centuries of Christianity in Africa, the Pastors of this Continent, in communion with the Successor of the Apostle Peter and members of the Episcopal College from other parts of the world, held a Synod which was intended to be an occasion of hope and resurrection, at the very moment when human events seemed to be tempting Africa to discouragement and despair.

The Synod Fathers, assisted by qualifed representatives of the clergy, religious and laity, subjected to a detailed and realistic study the lights and shadows, the challenges and future prospects of evangelization in Africa on the threshold of the Third Millennium of the Christian faith.

The members of the Synodal Assembly asked me to bring to the attention of the whole Church the results of their reflections and prayers, discussions and exchanges.1 With joy and gratitude to the Lord I accepted this request and today, at the very moment when, in communion with the Pastors and faithful of the Catholic Church in Africa, I begin the celebration phase of the Special Assembly for Africa, I am promulgating the text of this Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, the result of an intense and prolonged collegial endeavour.

But before describing what developed in the course of the Synod, I consider it helpful to go back, if only briefly, over the various stages of an event of such decisive importance for the Church in Africa.

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