Final Message of the IV National Pastoral Assembly

1. Gathered during this Easter Season, for the celebratory phase of the Fourth National Pastoral Assembly, on 17-21 May in the Archdiocese of Nampula, we, bishops, priests, religious men and women, lay people from all the dioceses, as the Family of God in Mozambique, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and comforted by the presence of distinguished guests, we wish to address a fraternal and warm greeting to you and to share with you the fruits of the work of this decisive stage in the itinerary of the Fourth National Pastoral Assembly.

2. The inaugural moment was marked by a solemn Eucharistic Celebration in the Cathedral, presided over by His Excellency Most Reverend Bishop Inácio Saure, IMC, Archbishop of Nampula and President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique. In addition to the bishops and delegates of the dioceses, priests, religious men and women and a substantial number of faithful took part in the celebration at the Cathedral to offer welcome and pray with the delegates. The kind presence of the civil authorities, especially His Excellency Manuel Rodrigues Alberto, Governor of the Province of Nampula, is noted as he offered the fraternal greetings and good wishes for fruitful work.

3. Giving thanks to God for this rich moment, a true gift that comes to us from on high, we give thanks for the blessings that He grants our Church in Mozambique, through the realization of this IV National Pastoral Assembly, with the significant theme on the Word of God, for the symbolism of the moment and for the modality through which it has been happening.

4. In fact, under the motto Reviving the Proclamation and Witness of the Word of God Today, the celebratory phase of the Fourth Assembly took place on the eve of Pentecost as a sequence of the three previous Assemblies, following a progressive itinerary, precisely when the whole Church is summoned to reflect on synodality. We live it as an event inspired by the Holy Spirit who accompanies and speaks to the Church in Mozambique. The work consisted of four fundamental moments: first, evaluation of the journey of the Church in Mozambique through the three previous National Assemblies; secondly, to discern the signs of the times from the present moment in which we are called to carry out our mission; thirdly, deepen the meaning of the fundamental core of the Christian proclamation; finally, consider the means to be given to reviving the proclamation and witness to the Word of God.

5. In assessing the path of the Church in Mozambique through the previous Assemblies, we note a rich legacy that inspires and motivates us to take new steps in the consolidation of our identity and mission. We realize that the character of the First National Assembly was fundamentally ecclesiological and pastoral, in that it focused on the very identity of the Church, seeking its being and acting in the context of the revolution of independent Mozambique; the Second Assembly sought to identify the means to consolidate the local Church in Mozambique; and the Third Assembly reflected on evangelization in the context of the emergence of the new areas. And now, this Assembly, in the face of the rapid transformations and challenges of the present moment, invites the Church in Mozambique to place Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, at the centre of her identity and mission.

6. Called to Revive the Proclamation and Witness of the Word of God Today, with the important contribution of the rapporteurs, we deepen the central nucleus of the Christian proclamation. The Word of God is none other than Jesus Christ himself, the Word made flesh, sent as man to men (DV 4), the Primordial Proclaimer, who has made known to us the profound truth both about God and about the salvation of men (cf. DV 4). For this reason, He is simultaneously the Mediator and the Fullness of all Revelation. But it is also He who enables the Church to be the first proclaimer of the Word. In fact, the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, proclaim Him; it is Christ who is welcomed, professed in the faith by the disciples, celebrated in the liturgy, taught in catechesis and witnessed to in charity by the life of the faithful. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, He is the living and efficacious Word of God, more penetrating than a double-edged sword; it penetrates to the point of dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart (cf. Heb 4:12).

7. From here we understand the importance of working so that every man and woman may truly encounter Christ, capable of transforming people’s minds and lives (cf. Rom 12:2). As Pope Francis teaches us, at the beginning of the journey of faith there is an encounter, indeed, there is the encounter with Jesus, who speaks to us of the Father, makes us know his Love. And so also in us arises spontaneously the desire to communicate it to the people we love: I have found love, I have found the meaning of my life, in a word I have found God (Pope Francis, speech of 21.01.21). The character of Christian formation is also evident, not to be confused with the simple acquisition of a body of information and knowledge. Christian formation consists of discipleship.

8. The choice to hold the Fourth Assembly through a gradual itinerary that contemplates different phases from the small communities, through the parishes and ecclesiastical provinces, to this celebratory phase, was to favor the participation and listening of a greater number of the faithful, which greatly helped us to become aware that we are already making a synodal journey and we are in tune with the universal Church that also, convened and guided by Pope Francis, is carrying out the synodal journey under the theme: For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.

9. We are, of course, since the First Assembly, a Church-family, in communion with ministerial communities. But now, in this providential moment, we perceive more clearly that we are also called to consolidate our being Church of disciples who walk, listen and proclaim the Word together. From the beginning we understood the need to walk together. Indeed, we begin with a clear willingness for all of us to do an exercise in listening: to listen to the Word of God, to listen to what the Spirit has to say to our Church today, to listen to one another, and not only to the world around us. In the homily of the opening Mass, the President of CEM, starting from the liturgical texts of the day, said: the text suggests to us that the proclamation of the Word becomes perfect when disciples and apostles work together. The mission is communitarian and does not admit individualism. Jesus wanted his apostles to constitute a particular group, but not to give them privileges to the detriment of the common mission. In the same vein, during the debates, both in groups and in plenary, the need for overall pastoral care was repeatedly emphasized, which is clearly not to be confused with uniformity.

10. Based on the Working Instrument and inspired by the presenters, it became evident that the Church urgently needs to be like the Virgin Mary, a servant of God, but also of others. In fact, a servant who, having listened religiously to the Word, accepts it, lets it become incarnate in her womb and hastily sets out to meet and serve humanity, especially the poor and marginalized.

11. Other aspects also became clear, such as perspectives in our lines of action, priorities and means to revitalize the pastoral care of proclamation and witness. But what resources to count on? Various means have been identified, but among others the need for the rediscovery of the Word of God has been pointed out as the key to the revitalization of our Church, enabling her to carry out with renewed encouragement her mission of evangelization and human promotion in today’s world, which thirsts for God and his word of faith, hope and charity. Today there is an urgent need to promote Biblical Pastoral Care not as one pastoral among others, but as the transversal axis that energizes the other pastoral activities. In other words, it is necessary to ensure that the activities of all sectors, communities and movements have at heart the personal and community encounter with Christ. In this way, biblical pastoral care will be seen as one of the privileged mediations for pastoral care as a whole.

12. Inspired by the gift of the Holy Spirit, let us renew our gratitude to God for the experience that has enabled us to live in the various phases of this Assembly. We also thank all those who participated and accompanied us with their prayers. The fruits of this Assembly and the guidelines for its reception and implementation will be offered to the entire People of God.

13. May Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of Mozambique, accompany us, inspire us and intercede for us in all the work of reviving the proclamation and witness of the Word of God today.

The Participants of the Assembly
+Inácio Saure, IMC; Archbishop of Nampula and President of CEM