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MDG Advocacy Tour- African Church leaders meet European leaders: 'change needs to be African-driven'

Date

09 Sep 2010

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

8 September 2010

Brussels – Ahead of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Review Summit in New York (20-22 September), a delegation of African bishops and development experts are currently in Europe to meet European political leaders and discuss efforts to improve the well-being of African communities, the obstacles they encounter and priorities to achieve change.

The Church in Africa, often the only civil society actor able to reach remote communities, provides services in the absence of effective governments. Taking these grassroot experiences into account in policy making is crucial to overcome difficulties which currently impede development of the African continent. The collective responsibility to strive for the MDGs is an important step in fighting global poverty. The delegation aims at inspiring European leaders travelling to the MDG Review Summit in New York with concrete stories from Africa; positive change is possible.

Testimonies include those of Bishop Silota, Vice-President of the Pan-African Bishops Conference SECAM who has worked for peace across Africa, and of Bishop Portella-Mbuyu who, despite three attempts on his life, continues to advocate strongly for democratisation and transparency in the management of oil revenues, crucial to lift African people in resource-rich countries out of poverty. The Secretary General and three experts of the Justice, Peace, Development, and HIV pillar of the Church from Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin are also part of the delegation.

The tour is organised by SECAM with the support of CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, and Caritas Europa, the European network of Caritas organisations working in Europe. The delegation is traveling to Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland hosted by CIDSE and Caritas Europa member organisations. See below for tour dates and more details.  

Who:

Bishop Francisco Joâo Silota of Mozambique is Vice-President of the Pan-African Bishops Conferences, leading the Church’s engagement with the African Union, European Union and United Nations.  Having played a central role in the peace process in Mozambique in the early 1990s, he has continued to work for peace across Africa, notably in his capacity as a Board member of the inter-faith African Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace.

Bishop Louis Portella-Mbuyu of Congo-Brazzaville presides the national Bishops Conference and is a key Catholic figure in the Central African region.  The Bishop has vocally engaged with the Congolese government, as well as European extractives companies, on the issues of democratisation and of transparency in the management of oil revenues, for the economic and social benefit of the population.  His fearless moral voice has led to three unsuccessful attempts on his life.

Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya* is Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), President of the national bishop conference of Congo and President of Pax Christi International. Monsengwo was the first African who received a doctorate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He played an important role in Congolese politics from 1991 to 1996, when he was chairman of the National Conference which had to prepare transition to democracy from the Mobutu regime.

*Swiss leg of the tour only

Father John Patrick Ngoyi is Director of the Church’s Justice, Peace and Development Commission in Nigeria.  He holds mandates in the Presidential Commission on the Millennium Development Goals and the boards of human rights organisations. 

Father Martinho Maulano of Mozambique is Secretary General of the Justice, Peace, Development, and HIV pillar of the African Church.  In this capacity, he leads the Church’s pan-African joint work on justice, peace, development, good governance, human rights, gender and HIV / AIDS.

Mrs. Philomena Johnson, of Ghana is the Director of Caritas Ghana, member of the Executive Committee of Caritas Internationalis and member of the Caritas Africa Commission.  She is an active advocate and member of the Ghana Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative and Publish What You Pay campaign.  She is strongly involved in matters of employment, livelihood security, migration and development, and rights of global migrant workers.

Mr. Firmin Adjahossou of Benin is responsible for the Pan-African Bishops Conferences’ working group on good governance.  He has played a key role in building the African Church’s advocacy work on issues including aid, Economic Partnership Agreements, debt, governance, migration, and natural resources.

Tour dates (between 7 and 15 September the delegation will split in two groups):

7-10 Sept: Switzerland (Fastenopfer, info swiss leg here in German) 

8-13 Sept: Austria 

10-13 Sept: France

13-15 Sept: Italy (Info launch FOCSIV's 'Barometer of International Solidarity' on 14 Sept here in Italian)

13-14 Sept: Germany 

15-18 Sept: Belgium/EU (joint)

Programme highlight: ‘Undermining Africa’s future?’ – debate in the European Parliament (Brussels), 15 September 2010, 18.30-20.30

Bishop and human rights defender from Congo-Brazzaville Louis Portella-Mbuyu, and Caritas Ghana Director Philomena Johnson will debate with representatives of the European Institutions on the lack of transparency of extractive industries in Africa. Continue reading about this event  

More meetings with high-level EU officials in Brussels are foreseen.

For additional information and interview requests:

Annalisa Mazzella: E-Mail: amazzella@caritas-europa.org; Tel.: +32 (0)2 235 03 94

or Elisabet Carlsson, E-Mail: ecarlsson@caritas-europa.org; Tel.: +32 (0)2 235 26 55

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