VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Africa has become the fount for the numerical growth of Catholics in the world, recalled bishops meeting in the Vatican in preparation for the second synod of African bishops.

The Vatican press office issued a communiqué today with the conclusions of the meeting of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops' General Secretariat, held in Rome on Feb. 15-16.

According to the communiqué, the council's members highlighted the Church's great dynamism in Africa where, in 2005, the increase in the number of Catholics (3.1%) was greater than the growth of the population (2.5%).

The prelates hope the upcoming synod will encourage lay people "to commit themselves to an integral improvement of the living conditions of all Africans: economically, culturally, from the point of view of health care and, above all, spiritually."

The communiqué continues: "Consideration was also given to the idea of involving representatives from other religions in the pre-synodal preparations, in order to respond, if possible together, to the current challenges facing the continent, which is seeking a more just and peaceful society ... and ever greater reconciliation."

Code: ZE07022724

Date: 2007-02-27