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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Ecclesia in Africa

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137. The Church in Africa shares with the universal Church "the sublime vocation of realizing, first of all within herself, the unity of humankind over and above any ethnic, cultural, national, social or other divisions in order to signify precisely that such divisions are now obsolete, having been abolished by the Cross of Christ".261 By responding to her vocation to be a redeemed and reconciled people in the midst of the world, the Church contributes to promoting the fraternal coexistence of all peoples, since she transcends the distinctions of race and nationality.

In view of the specific vocation entrusted to the Church by her Divine Founder, I earnestly call upon the Catholic Community in Africa to bear authentic witness before all humanity to the Christian universalism which has its source in the fatherhood of God. "All persons created by God have the same origin. Whatever may, throughout history, have been their dispersion or the accentuation of their differences, they are destined to form one sole family according to God's plan established ?in the beginning' ".262 The Church in Africa is called to reach out in love to every human being, firmly believing that "by his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man".263

In particular, Africa ought to make its own special contribution to the ecumenical movement, an urgent task which, on the threshold of the Third Millennium, I have emphasized once more in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint.264 Certainly the Church on the Continent can also play an important role in interreligious dialogue, above all by fostering close relations with Muslims and by promoting respect for the values of African traditional religion.

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