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SYNOD-GREGORY Oct-6-2009 (360 words) With photo posted Oct. 5. xxxi

Racial justice still must be achieved in US, archbishop tells synod

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta takes his seat at the opening session of the Synod of Bishops for Africa in the synod hall at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the United States has made tremendous progress in moving from a history of slavery toward racial justice, there is still much left to do, said Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta.

"We also need to achieve reconciliation, justice and peace in our own land," he said Oct. 5 during the special Synod of Bishops for Africa.

Archbishop Gregory was one of 47 bishops from outside Africa invited by Pope Benedict XVI to participate in the synod.

The theme of the Oct. 4-25 synod is "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace."

The archbishop said, "While my own nation has made outstanding and blessed progress in our own struggle for racial reconciliation and justice, we have not yet achieved that perfection to which the Gospel summons all humanity."

The archbishop cited an excerpt from the writings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was in a jail in Birmingham, Ala. The civil rights leader wrote that the prophet Amos urged people to pursue perfection to the point that justice surges like water and "righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

Africans no longer come to the United States "wearing chains and as human chattel," but they come as skilled workers, business people and students "eager to make a new life in a land that they view as promising," he said.

Many who come as visitors or new residents possess "a profound and dynamic Catholic faith," which challenges "us to rediscover our own spiritual traditions that so often are set aside because of the influence of our secular pursuits," he said.

Archbishop Gregory also talked about Africa's valuable mineral resources, which "the world today lusts for and at times pursues with ravishing greed and frequent violence."

Africa's "resources are a blessing for this planet that can be used to bring not only prosperity to the peoples of Africa but, properly viewed, bring a sense of the oneness of the earth and the interconnectedness that people everywhere have when we wisely use the natural resources that God has placed in our hands as a common patrimony," he said.


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