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61st Africa Day

Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day), the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity on May 25, 1963

This organization was replaced by the African Union on July 9, 2002, but the holiday continues to be celebrated on 25 May in various countries on the African continent as well as around the world.

Even the Vatican celebrated 61st Africa Day with a Holy Mass presided on 27 May, in Rome’s Marian Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Present were the Ambassadors of the African Group to the Holy See, the resident African diplomatic missions accredited to the Italian Republic, and the permanent African representations accredited to the United Nations FAO/WFP/IFAD. Also attending were African prelates from the Roman Curia and African priests in Italy.

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In his homily, Cardinal Parolin referenced the insights on Africa from post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (1995 – St. John Paul II) and Africae Munus (2011 – Benedict XVI).These documents highlighted the challenges, difficulties, and contrasts faced by the continent, while also emphasizing its hopeful aspects.

The Secretary of State stated that Africa must chart its own path to success. While the continent possesses strength, abundant resources, and diverse wealth, it also requires sincere allies from the international community, who are committed to working for the well-being of its people, peace, reconciliation, and development.

Cardinal Parolin emphasized the importance of international community support, especially given Africa’s challenging circumstances marked by violent conflicts causing immense suffering. He pointed to the situation in the East of Congo as an example.

The Cardinal expressed his conviction that there is hope for progress, but underscored a fundamental principle: prioritizing the people’s welfare. When material interests take precedence, peace becomes elusive. However, justice and equitable access to material wealth—responsibilities shared by local authorities and the international community—can lead to improvement.

Regarding the Holy See’s role, Cardinal Parolin assured that it supports the African Church as part of one global family. Through Nunciatures and the Pope’s direct interest in Africa, they strive to extend a helping hand wherever possible.

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