Testimony of a missionary: "In times of pandemic,
the first evangelization remains our starting point"
Ebimpé (Agenzia Fides) - "The first evangelization always remains our starting point. We are also particularly involved in matters relating to justice and peace".
Thus reports, in an interview with Agenzia Fides, Father Leopoldo Molena, Italian member of the Society of African Missions (SMA) in Ivory Coast, speaking of missionary action in the countries and the challenges that religious must face on a daily basis.
"With the social confinement imposed by Covid-19 - says Fr. Leopoldo - we were not able to truly exercise our pastoral care as we desired, but we always remained in contact with our people: on Sundays we send them telephone messages and call them to share a short homily".
This was a very hard situation for the Ivorian faithful, reports Fr. Molena: "It was a great pain to remain without mass, each one having to pray in isolation at home. Certainly, faith has remained in the hearts of the majority of the baptized, but some have declared that they have lost trust in God and as a result this condition raises questions for us pastoral workers and suggests that we should think of new paths of evangelization".
Among the most important challenges for the Church in Ivory Coast is also the social and political situation, which still remains tense after the presidential vote on October 31st. "All this shows the fragility of peace in Ivory Coast - observes the missionary - when it seemed that the page had been turned after a crisis that lasted a decade, marked by two civil wars, violence became, worryingly, a routine.
Today all Ivorians are called to safeguard the peace process and to rediscover peaceful coexistence and serenity", says Fr. Leopoldo.
To this end, the missionaries of the SMA, through the 'Shalom Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation Network' (Rest-Cor) have prepared a series of interventions aimed at raising awareness among the population. "We intend to train community leaders in conflict prevention through training seminars, explains Fr. Molena. It is important - he concludes - to start a process of non-violent social transformation, so that justice and peace reign with a view to integral human and social development".