The bishops who spoke at the Synod for Africa sometimes used different and divergent tones when speaking of Islam, but they agreed on need for dialogue and religious liberty.

Monsignor Joseph Bato’ora Ballong Wen Mewuda, the synod’s spokesman for the French language, affirmed this, and noted the difference of expressions between the bishops of North Africa and those of Sub-Saharan Africa.

These differences are reflected in the conclusions of the working groups of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

These conclusions of the working groups, each made up of some 20 members, were reported on by the relator of one of the French-speaking groups, Father Gerard Chabanon, superior-general of the Missionaries of Africa, formerly known as the White Fathers.

He noted that the bishops of North Africa were “prudent” when it came to denouncing incidents of restriction to religious liberty in their communities.

For example, in his intervention focused on young Sub-Saharan students in the Maghreb, Archbishop Vincent Landel of Rabat, Morocco, president of the North African bishops’ conference, said that these youth “discover a world where Islam is societal and where there is practically no religious freedom.”

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 23, 2009 (