Coverage of the final conclusions from the Synod for Africa so far has focused mostly on the African bishops’ stinging rebuke of corrupt politicians -– in effect, telling them to repent or get out. In all honesty, however, there’s relatively little the Catholic church can do, at least in any direct sense, to control the behavior of national leaders in Africa or anywhere else.
Proof of the point is that the first Synod for Africa in 1994 issued a similar call for more ethical governance, and it’s not clear that such statements have changed very much.
There is a fair bit that Africa’s bishops can do, however, to shape the life of the Catholic church on the continent, and that may be where the synod’s concluding message, as well as the 57 propositions for action submitted to Pope Benedict XVI, have their most immediate impact.
On that front, if there's one big idea that seemed to surface, it was a call to take women more seriously -- in society, and also in the church.
In keeping with the candor exhibited throughout the synod about the church’s need to confront its own failures, the bishops called for: