English Africa Service– Vatican City
For three days since Monday, 22 July, the Assembly’s activities have been marked by three distinct exercises, namely study sessions, group discussions and plenary discussions. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the delegates shared pastoral experiences from all the various episcopal regions of Africa. Two key papers were presented to the Bishops for their review and reflection. Theses include, Possibilities and Occasion for Missionary Activity in today’s Africa presented by the Bishop of Laghouat in Algeria, John Gordon.MacWilliam, M. Afr. The Bishop of Kilwa-Kasenga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fulgence Muteba Mugalu presented a paper on New Frontiers, Spiritualities and Pastoral Strategies.
Working according to Pope Francis’ spirit of Synodality
Fr Nathanael Soede, who moderated Tuesday’s proceedings, reminded the Bishop-delegates to continue engaging each other in the spirit of Synodality as Pope Francis always reminds the Church.
“In the spirit of journeying together, let us look at the pastoral challenges ahead of us and for the future of the Church in Africa,” said Fr Soede.
Product of SECAM must be concrete, refined and substantial
Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, the Vatican’ Secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelisation of Peoples, emphasised the importance of identifying linkages between the past and the future of evangelisation in Africa.
“We are not re-inventing the wheel. Therefore, it is important that we see what was already decided in the past 50 years, where we are today, what ought to be done from now onwards. This is what will give our Assembly a sense of continuity. Let us focus so that the product of this conference will be concrete, refined and substantial,” said Archbishop Rugambwa.
Paving pastoral strategies for tomorrow’s Church
Given the present realities of the Church, the Bishops also emphasised that apart from being academically profound, the document of the forthcoming recommendations and resolutions ought to have a pastoral flavour centred on the people of God. Further, the document must reflect and emphasise that the Church belongs to all the people of God - the clergy, religious men and women as well as the laity.
Gratitude for the achievements of SECAM
Various speakers expressed appreciation for what the Church in Africa has achieved since the establishment of SECAM in 1969. Some of these achievements include the Church’s commitment to evangelisation, integral human development, and the universality of the Catholic Church.