Bernardo Suate - Vatican City
Angola’s Archbishop of Lubango and President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Gabriel Mbilingi together with the Bishop of Namibe, Dionísio Hisiilenapo, told Vatican Radio/Vatican News that Pope Francis has an informed and high sensitivity towards pastoral matters.
The Bishops felt challenged when Pope Francis called upon the Episcopal Conference to find pastoral solutions to some of the local problems they shared with him. He told them not to wait for the Pope or some department of the Curia in the Vatican to come up with answers.
Reconciliation, justice, peace and reconstruction of the social fabric
According to the CEAST Bishops, one of the biggest challenges facing their pastoral ministry is working in societies where the poor are getting poorer by the day, while the rich grow more prosperous. Coupled with this are the perennial challenges of endemic corruption, nepotism and the unequal distribution of the gains from the countries’ natural resources. The Bishops nevertheless commended the new Government of Angola for making some effort to redress this but say more could still be done.
Archbishop Mbilingi emphasised that the Church in the region is working flat out to promote and work for reconciliation, justice and peace, and to rebuild the social fabric of a society that is still reeling from conflicts that have since ended.
Presence of hostile sects
“In a society in which almost sixty per cent of the population is made up of Catholics, one of the most disconcerting challenges of our local Church is the increasing presence of aggressive and hostile sects who see the work of the Catholic Church as a threat,” said the Bishop of Namibe, Dionísio Hisiilenapo
Fifty years of SECAM
Archbishop Mbilingi who is also the current President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) took the opportunity to inform Vatican Radio/Vatican News that the Church in Africa was preparing to celebrate a significant event in its history. This is the Golden Jubilee of SECAM which is scheduled be held in Kampala, Uganda, next month from 21 to 28 July.
SECAM was inaugurated in 1969 in Uganda by Blessed Pope Paul VI. It is an association of Bishops in Africa and is an institution of organic pastoral solidarity. SECAM began in response to the call of the Second Vatican Council to the bishops to live the spirit of collegiality from the national, regional, continental and universal levels
Asked about the significance of the Golden Jubilee, the SECAM President replied, “The Jubilee of the 50th anniversary of this continental body will be celebrated in July, this year. The Golden Jubilee is for the Church of Africa to recommit to do better in the next 50 years,” he said.