By Francesca Merlo
As African Bishops gather in Kampala, Uganda, for their July 21st to 28th Symposium, Pope Francis wrote to the President of SECAM, Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, saying he is joining all those gathered for the event “in thanking Almighty God for the many graces received by SECAM and for the fraternal communion that has characterized its work over these fifty years”.
In quoting his 2015 address to the institution, he assured his prayers that members of SECAM might be strengthened in missionary discipleship, for “the great work of evangelization consists in striving to make the Gospel permeate every aspect of our lives so that we, in turn, can bring it to others”.
In this way, he concluded “SECAM will continue to be valuable service to the local Churches throughout the entire continent of Africa.”
SECAM and Pope Paul VI
The aim of the institution, inaugurated during Pope Saint Paul VI’s pilgrimage to Uganda 50 years ago, was to enable African bishops to manage religious work in solidarity and collegiality at the Pan-African level and promote the Catholic Church's participation in education, spirituality and local communities. On this occasion, Pope Paul VI confirmed the Church in Africa in her faith, declaring:
“You Africans, you are now your own missionaries.”
“You can and ought to have an African Christianity.”
The theme of this year’s Golden Jubilee is Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour.
SECAM noted that, for centuries, Africa has received and proclaimed the Gospel. In celebrating the Golden Jubilee of SECAM, each Catholic, every Christian community in Africa and Madagascar, is invited to let the call to this mission resonate within them and to respond to it with zeal.
The objectives of the Jubilee, according to the institution’s website, are to “celebrate in thanksgiving God’s wonderous deeds, His gift of baptism and of the Church; to reflect on the progress made so far, with the aim of deepening our faith, rooted in Christ, and to resolutely engage ourselves in the mission of proclaiming the gospel in words and actions.”