Africa’s Catholic leadership group turns 50—and calls for Christian renewal
Bishops pose with Catholic mass-goers at Ugandan Catholic Martyrs Shrine. Courtesy photo
Catholic News Agency
July 24, 2018
The potential for Christian engagement and renewal will be a focus for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the leadership organization for Catholic bishops’ conferences in Africa.
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar’s Golden Jubilee celebration is intended “to celebrate in thanksgiving God’s wondrous 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.”
The five-day event, hosted by the Ugandan episcopal conference, will take place July 26-30 in the area of Uganda’s capital Kampala at Speke Resort Hotel and Conference Centre, Munyonyo, reported the Catholic News Agency for Africa [unrelated to CNA]. SECAM was launched in Uganda 50 years ago.
The golden jubilee’s working document invites every Christian in Africa and Madagascar to let the call to the Christian message “resonate in him or her and respond to it with zeal.”
When SECAM was established in 1969, the symposium said, “Pope Paul VI came and confirmed the Church in Africa in her faith, and declared: you Africans, you are now your own missionaries; you can and ought to have an African Christianity.”
The symposium grew out of the desires of the African bishops at the Second Vatican Council to speak with one voice. SECAM’s stated mission, according to its website, is to “to promote its role as a sign and instrument of salvation and to build the Church as a Family of God in Africa,” while also preserving and fostering communion and collaboration among its member episcopal conferences.
The SECAM secretariat is headquartered in Accra, Ghana.
Planned activities for the jubilee launch in Uganda include prayer sessions, a series of workshops on the working document, a meeting of SECAM officials and general secretaries, an extraordinary meeting of the SECAM Standing Committee, and a meeting of SECAM staff and others.
The jubilee event will open with Sunday Mass July 29 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Rubanga. Its theme is “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee, Proclaim Jesus Christ your Savior.”
There will be Sunday evening prayers for attendees at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine at Namugongo.
Among the goals of the jubilee’s working document are efforts to give thanks for the Church as the family of God; for Christians’ identity as baptized people and their mission to witness to the gospel; the gift of the Eucharist; and the pastoral and social work of the Church for those in need.
The jubilee plans aim to identify various initiatives and activities of the Church in Africa at all levels from the personal to the continental and to consider their success, failures, joys and difficulties. Specifically, the working document asks Christians to consider how they acknowledge the progress of the Church, the family, and God. It asks what measures have been taken to promote justice, reconciliation, peace and development and to help internalize and testify the truth that Christians are the family of God. It asks how Christians offer mutual support and how they use their spiritual and material resources.
Also recommended are reflections on how to advance repentance and conversion, including awareness of “our shortcomings and negligence in acknowledging and developing the immense human and natural resources of Africa in favor of our populations.”
The document advocates renewed commitment to bearing witness in Christ. This includes “recognizing and promoting the roots and cultural values of Africa to meet the major challenges for her transformation.”
Among its recommendations for renewal are strengthening the sense of personal responsibility among laity, religious and clergy; organizing formation in Christ and the gospel; identifying socio-cultural and economic barriers to the Christian mission; and rethinking and promoting the involvement of Christians in public life.
The document recognizes the importance of institutions of Christian formation like universities, seminaries, novitiates and associations.
Pastoral care of the needy and for children and youth are also emphasized.