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VIA: Voice of America News

African bishops ended their assembly or synod at the Vatican Sunday with a call on corrupt African leaders to repent or resign.

The bishops specifically singled out Catholics in high offices to either show remorse for their misdeeds or quit their public offices and stop giving Africa and the Church a bad name.

Monsignor Matthew Odong, vicar of the Archdiocese of Gulu in northern Uganda said the Church has an obligation to be the voice of the voiceless.

“The major theme of this synod is that the Church is the light of the world; the church is the soul of the earth, meaning that the Church has a mission to proclaim the Gospel of truth, the Gospel of peace, the Gospel of justice, meaning that the Church has a role to be the voice of the voiceless, especially the voice of those who experience injustice in their situation, he said.

Monsignor Odong said the Church’s fight for justice includes the fight against corruption.

“Where there is corruption certainly you cannot expect good government; where there is corruption you cannot expect good distribution or fair distribution of natural resources,” Monsignor Odong said.

He objected to criticism that the Church was meddling in politics.

“When the Church speaks on behalf of the voiceless, on behalf of the victims of oppression, on behalf of the victims of exploitation then the Church is doing her role, a prophetic role,” he said.

The bishops did not name any particular leader in their criticism, but among African leaders who are Catholics are Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos.

Monsignor Odong said the bishops were right in criticizing African Catholics in high offices for their poor performance in office.

“Catholics should take the Gospel of justice, of peace, of love to their places of work. So I think the bishops are right that we have Catholics who may not be serious. They are Catholics nominally, but in practice they are not following really their mission,” Monsignor Odong said.

The 200 African bishops also accused multinational companies of destroying Africa’s environment in their exploitation of the continent’s natural resources.

Monsignor Odong said multinationals must also exercise justice in their business practices.

“The rich always tend to exploit the poor. This is the fact of history, and this actually comes from greed. Greed is the root cause of this. Multi-companies, they’ve got to exercise some justice and that their business should not really leave the continent like Africa poorer and poorer,” he said.

He joined the bishops in reiterating the Church’s stance that the use of condoms is not the solution to the AIDS pandemic in Africa.