Meeting on Reconciliation opens in South Africa

4162meetingThe Archbishop of Cape Town, Most Rev. Stephen Brislin has observed that the Church in Africa is at the brink of a new dawn with great challenges that need  to be addressed seriously  with new energy and urgency. He called for a more transformed Church based on Gospel values- a call to conversion and the sharing of the Catholic faith with other people.

Archbishop Brislin who is also the President of the Southern Africa  Bishops’ Conference ( SACBC) made these remarks in a welcome message to Secretaries General  of National and Regional Episcopal Conferences in Africa who are meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa  from March 11 to 14, 2014.

The Church in Africa, he said, has made great contributions to the development of Africa, however the continent is still plagued  with some failures and challenges which the Church has to address as part of its mission.

The meeting has as its theme: “The role of Secretaries General of National and Regional Episcopal Conferences in the  reconciliation processes, Good Governance, Common Good and Democratic Transitions in Africa, in the  light of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations: Ecclesia in Africa and Africae Munus.”

In a message delivered on behalf of the Apostolic Nunciature to Southern Africa, Rev. Msgr. Kevin Randall, urged the Secretaries General to use their skills for conflict resolution on the continent.

He commended SECAM for its Pastoral Letter on: Governance, Common Good and Democratic Transitions in Africa and urged the Secretaries to serve as links between the Church and State in their respective countries. The Church in Africa, he stressed, has to be more proactive. He referred to what he called the Roman Spring,that is, the revival of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.  The Holy Father, he said, is leading the Church with such fervour and contributing to the building of a new Catholic Church that is more dynamic and living more and more the Gospel message.

Bishop Anton S. Sipuka, a Vice-President of the SACBC and member of the Standing Committee of SECAM appealed to the Secretaries and his brother bishops to appreciate the ecclesial value of SECAM and contribute to  make it  of great service to the Church in Africa.

On the theme of the meeting, he said that there was the need for the  reconciliation not only with people outside the Church but also  with those within the  Church.

Goodwill messages were presented by Rev. Fr. Raymond O’Toole, Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences ( FABC) and Rev. Msgr. Duarte Da  Cunha, Secretary General of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE)

Rev. Fr. Sean O’Leary, Director of the Dennis Hurley Peace Institute in South Africa and Mr. Hippolyt Pul, Regional Coordinator of CRS Africa Peace-building Working Group addressed the meeting  on its  theme. They gave a graphical picture and analysis of key conflicts in Africa and the role that is expected of regional and continental bodies in the process of reconciliation.

The meeting also had reports from the Regional Secretaries and a presentation of a SECAM Secretariat Strategic Action Plan for 2013- 2016.

The participants were welcomed to the meeting on behalf of the President of SECAM, Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi by Rev. Fr. Joseph Komakoma, Secretary General of SECAM.

March 12, 2014