Conference of Bishops of the North Africa
Region The Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of North Africa ends this Sunday, January 15, 2023. It was held in Marseilles on the northwestern shore of the Mediterranean. We came from Algiers, Benghazi, Constantine, Laayoune, Laghouat, Oran, Rabat, Tangier, Tripoli and Tunis. It hadn’t happened for a long time. The Apostolic Nunciature in Morocco, which accompanies our Conference, was represented by its first counsellor.
A time of spiritual and theological renewal adapted to our meeting, with the help of Fathers Christian Salenson and Alexis Leproux. Their reflection stimulated ours, in the sense of our vocation to catholicity and to the dialogue of salvation, the purpose of which is that everyone may have life in abundance. Then we took stock of the situation of our region and our dioceses, in particular the reality of new disciples. We have appointed to the theological commission created this year a work of deepening the synodal document produced by our Conference at the end of the diocesan phase of the synod on synodality.
Our meeting was characterized by a particular approach, that of looking at our reality from the angle of our belonging to the Mediterranean world, where three continents meet. We are one of the five shores. “On the shores of this sea, God became man…” (Pope Francis in Lesbos, December 5, 2021). All this invites us to situate ourselves in a dynamic of fraternal exchange and dialogue. The paper suggests to us that what we have been able to live there in history and what we will be able to promote there can be a message for the contemporary world: « We are bound to be solid bridges of dialogue, creative mediators of peace” (Pope Francis in Assisi, September 20, 2016). We will involve our Churches in this dynamic which makes it possible to better share together the questions which are specific to us. Marseille is marked by this perspective through its geography, its history, its demography and its diocesan orientations. This is why we chose to meet here this year and to work there with Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline. The Mediterranean leads our Churches to deepen and seek together how their situation as a minority and their fragility are also a source of fruitfulness. Following the meetings of bishops from all over the Mediterranean which were held in Bari (2020) and Florence (2022), the meeting which is taking shape for next autumn in Marseille seems to us to be an important step. Our reflections took place at the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Garde, to whom we addressed the joys and sufferings of our countries and the Mediterranean basin marked by migrations, conflicts and forms of instability. The prayers rising from this sanctuary join those of other sanctuaries in the Mediterranean. We would like to warmly thank Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline and the Church of Marseilles who welcomed us so well. Our assembly created to work regularly by videoconference and will be created again in a year in Rabat. Marseilles, Sunday January 15, 2023