The Catholic Bishops from Europe and Africa have appealed for more understanding from their nationals that would provide economic opportunities for youths from both continents.
This is contained in a joint statement made by the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences in the European Union and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar on Sunday.
It was signed and made available by Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, the SECAM bishop for Social Communication and bishop, Catholic Diocese of Oyo.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the bishops made the appeal ahead of the fifth summit of the African Union and the European Union which would take place by November in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The bishops said that the summit should aim at promoting continental vision within the Church and accompanying political institutions and organisations on how they could also achieve their respective missions.
The bishops commended the theme of the summit which is “Youth’’ adding that it was the same theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church scheduled for next year in Rome.
The bishops said that the opportunities from the summit would also favour the creation of jobs, especially for young people, in local industries and sustainable development of agriculture.
It stated: “In order to make use of the opportunities in education and training for all, boys and girls need to be strengthened and redesigned in view of the newly needed communication and technological skills.
“Answers must be given to the youth as they face new ideologies regarding culture, the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family, and loss of spirituality in a world where a materialistic culture is dominant.
“We call for justice and equity in trade in goods and services, but especially with regard to natural resources, which are exported each year from Africa.”
They said that the promotion of local industries and sustainable development of agriculture would help to reduce the stress that had always forced young people to leave their homeland and diminish what they called ‘brain drain’.
The bishops advised those that would attend the meeting to bring to light different forms of disillusionment, especially among the youth, and identify ways of addressing them in a spirit of mutual respect for persons and for different cultures.
They said that migration had always been a constant feature of human coexistence in society, saying that migration had come to stay, it would not go away.
The bishops, however, said that it was the responsibility of the political leaders to make sure that migrants were treated with dignity and protected against criminal exploitation.
They said: “In particular, young people will continue to choose to migrate out of professional reasons.
“We hope for a strong statement from the participants of the AU – EU Summit on migration and, especially, the fight against human trafficking.
“We will expect the summit to reinforce its commitment for sustainable development programmes on the occasion of the summit.’’
They noted that Africa and Europe were destined for a common future.
They, however, said that many of the youths from both continents did not have trust in some of the political and private institutions in both continents.
They said: “To gain or restore trust, participation and a sense of belonging is the key. Effective participation demands transparency and accountability from all parties.
“At the Abidjan Summit, opportunity should be given to young Africans and Europeans to share their hopes and expectations about an adequate environment for sustainable development.”
The bishops said that peace, justice and care should be the guiding principles for long-term policies and strategies designed to prepare their common future.
They added: “In the preparation of future EU-AU summits, we propose to set up a dialogue between political and religious leaders.
“As COMECE and SECAM, we would be happy to participate in such an open and transparent dialogue.”