We must have hope, that theological virtue which many contend is primary because of its role in leading us to the other two.
Recently, I came across a powerful manifestation of hope. It is in the letter attached here and I invite anyone interested in starting the new year with a bracing dose of this invigorating virtue to take some time to read it.
Titled “Governance, Common Good And Democratic Transitions In Africa,” it was published by SECAM, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar. SECAM represents all of the bishops in Africa and its document resonates with prophetic witness.
A half century after the deconolization of most of its states, Africa remains a poor continent. As the letter explains the abundant wealth in its natural resources is in sharp contrast to the pervading poverty of the vast majority of the African population. The principal cause is the scourge of political corruption and the lack of good governance. “Corruption has become a cancer in almost all the African countries and affects vital sectors such as the economic system, day to day administration, the job market, health, education and the judicial system.”
It is also devastating for the environment. What is needed is a “democratic transition that allows each state to move towards a new political order legitimately founded on a free and fair electoral process and the respect o democratic principles.” Essential to this transition is an ethical and inviolable commitment by all parties to the common good.
The letter stirs one’s hope because of its unanimity, its candor and its courage. In the face of overwhelming odds and personal risk these bishops, these pastors of the Church, give eloquent voice to the voiceless and challenging leadership to all of us.
Could it be that Africa, once known as “the Dark Continent,” will illuminate the path for the rest of us as the Kingdom advances? Remember Nathanael’s response to Philip in John’s Gospel:
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Click here to view the SECAM Pastoral Letter