Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall 

Dakar Archbishop urges Senegalese Catholics to witness to Christian identity

Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar encourages the Catholic faithful in Senegal to greater participation in the synodal process through mutual listening and respect, urging them to find joy in their Christian identity in the predominantly Muslim country.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

As the universal Church continues on its two-year synodal process towards the Synod of Bishops in 2023, local churches have found creative ways to be engaged in the process, taking into account their challenges and needs, as well as the cultural, social and socio-economic contexts of their location.

The Archdiocese of Dakar, which covers Senegal’s capital city, is one of the seven dioceses in the predominantly Muslim country. The local prelate, Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye, highlights the Church’s efforts as it joins on the synodal path, in an interview with Vatican News.

Senegal Church on synodal path

Archbishop Ndiaye underlines the link between “Synod” and “ecclesia”, noting that being Church also means that we are on a path, which, through listening to Christ, will lead us to peace.

For the synodal process, he says that the Archdiocese has been inspired by the image of the Emmaus disciples who were joined on their journey by Jesus, as a sign that God follows us on the road to lead us aright.

Another passage from Acts 8 – the story of Philip and the Ethiopian official who continue together to discover the truth – indicates to us that God, who is our companion, meets us on our way.

Walking together

“To walk together, we need to know each other better, to appreciate and listen to the other - their culture and spirituality and lives,” Archbishop Ndiaye says, adding that though we may be different, our differences enrich us.

In this regard, he explains that the faithful in Dakar come from different ethnic groups, yet have found ways to be communally engaged and motivated on the synodal path, in spite of challenges.

One of such challenges, he said, is that there are not enough structures for the growing number of the faithful.

Nonetheless, in the meantime, the Church is prioritizing “building the community before the place where the community will be situated.”

Making the voices of minorities heard

In a country of over 16 million people, of which over 90 % of the population is Muslim, the Church understands the importance of ensuring that the voices that are not often heard be given a space, including minority groups and women.

During the synodal process, explains Archbishop Ndiaye, the Universal Church similarly offers the opportunity of being listened to the local Churches at the grassroots level.

He said that the Catholic Church, though a minority religion in the country, has been engaged in social action on many levels, through education, human development, charity and the promotion of women, among others. Through these works, he adds, “the Church lives its coherence between words and actions.”

Looking ahead

Looking towards the future, Archbishop Ndiaye hopes that the synodal process might lead the Church to be closer to the reality of the common people.

To achieve this, he says, there might be need for more dioceses in the country, in order to ensure that priests are closer to the people.

For the Archbishop, this is important because an effective evangelization pastoral plan requires a better distribution of pastoral personnel in new areas that are opening up thanks to the growing number of Catholic faithful.

To the Senegalese faithful

Archbishop Ndiaye exhorts the Senegalese Catholic faithful, especially those in Dakar, to appreciate the joy of being disciples of Christ who frees us from all fears and worries. He reminds them that God loves us all and wants our good.

Finally, he exhorts them to be happy about their Christian identity and be witnesses of it to the whole world.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

26 March 2022, 08:13