Opening Speech from SECAM President Most Rev. Gabriel Mbilingi, CSSp, at the 17th Plenary Assembly

(Luanda, 18 – 25 July 2016)

Your Excellence Mr. Vice-President from Angola Republic, Engº Manuel Vicente

Excellences Members of Parliament of the Republic of Angola

Excellences Mrs. Ministers and others competent officers from Angola government

Your Excellence State Governor from Luanda General Higino Carneiro

Your Eminences

Your Excellence Most Rev. Ervin, Nuncio Secretary, on behalf from Your Excellence Rev. Apostolic Nuncio in Angola and São Tomé

Your Excellence Most Rev. Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias, Archbishop from Luanda and President from CEAST.

Your Excellencies Most Rev.s SECAM Archbishops e Bishops

Reverend Fathers

Reverend Sisters,

My dear lay people;

Representatives from other Continental Episcopal Conferences from outside África,

Representatives from SECAM partners

My dear fellows members from local organization committee;

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It’s with a great joy that I officially welcomed all of you in Luanda, our capital city in Angola, wishing you all my warm welcoming remarks into this Open ceremony to de 17th Plenary Assembly from SECAM

First of all, I would like to underlined and to thank you all support received from the Government and from the People of Angola Republic, in the way they facilitated all the enter visa into the country, the reception received at the arriving in Angola, from our delegates and all the conditions forms made for making possible to held, for the first time, in our Angolan home land, the Catholic Bishops Plenary Assembly from our continent, even though the country is living in a very hard economic and financial situation. All SECAM will pray Our Lord that He will keep on pour out His blessings of peace, prosperity e well being upon Angolan people.

I want also to thank you all my lord bishops from CEAST and the Local Organization Committee, that when they accept the big challenge of organizing this Plenary, they didn’t stop in any occasion and didn’t spare no efforts to make this meeting became a reality.

For those whom not yet know the SECAM organization, I’ll ask you, Excellences, to allow me only some words about it nature and mission. SECAM is a continental organization that gather in its context, all Episcopal Conferences from Africa and Madagascar. The established idea of such organization became on light during II Vatican Council, when a group of African bishops that participated at that Council, and felt the need to form this body in order to built a Solidarity Organic Pastoral.

That organization was officially launched in Kampala, Uganda, July 31, 1969, during the visit of Pope Paul VI, today Blessed. Within three years (2019) SECAM will celebrate its Gold Jubilee, it means 50 years since its foundation.

SCEAM wants to see realized the Evangelization in all Africa. Its mission is to preserve and foster communication with all means to reach such a goal. As an organism created for Organic Solidarity Pastoral, SECAM look to preserve and foster the communion, the collaboration and consultation particularly of all Conferences in Africa and in the Adjacent Islands, on those aspects about human and spiritually development among their people, especially in the following areas: commitment in a deep Evangelization, in a mission ad gentes as also in the New Evangelization; Commitment in Reconciliation, Justice and Peace; Ecumenism, the inter religious dialogue in Africa and with people of good will; the formation of Evangelization agents in such a way that we can have a regular consultation about the principal problems that faces the Church in Africa and all over the world; the collaboration with other Episcopal Institutions at continental level, such as CCEE, o CELAM, a FABC…; the advocacy of the poor, of those ‘with no voice’, of the refugees and migrants; Social Communication promotion; Family Pastoral and Christian marriage.

Pope Benedict XVI (Emeritus) recognized and strengthened this SECAM noble cause, in His Apostolic Exhortation Post-Synodal Africae Munus when He calls all African Bishops and from Adjcent Islands, saying: I also consider it important for the bishops to help support, effectively and affectively, the Symposium of Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) as a continental structure of solidarity and ecclesial communion.” (107)

Actually SECAM counts on more or less 500 bishops, including Archbishops and Cardinals, and 38 National Conferences distributed on 8 Regional Conferences.

Although the great challenges , SECAM is able to maintain and being an liaison, consultation and collaboration organism, among all Episcopal Conferences, respecting the autonomy of its members.

Each three years SCEAM held its Plenary Assembly. It’s chosen a specifically theme as guide for eventually Pastoral Actions at various levels. The first days are dedicated to studying the issue theme in a cadre of a seminary that will be conclude with the adoption of Resolutions and Recommendations that will integrated in the Church’s Pastoral Plan at different levels. The 17th Assembly has as its theme: The Family in Africa, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: in the Light of the Gospel. We chose that theme under the inspiration of the Synod about the Family (2015) and also under the anticipation of Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, already published.

During this days and our deliberation, we hope to arrive at some resolutions that can help us to strength our pastoral ministry towards the family, on the context of modern challenges in which all families all over the today’s world, face themselves.

I would like to call on yourselves to pray without ceasing, for the Bishops gathered here in Luanda, for our successful deliberations, to the great Glory of God’s Kingdom.

It’s also our constant concern the lake of peace and reconciliation in many of our countries. That’s why is relevant one Evangelization Action that may transform our Continent through promotion of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, of human dignity in every areas, a mission very well established by the Second Special Synod for Africa and clearly set in the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Africae Munus” by Emeritus Pope Benedictus XVI.

In that way, SECAM release the Year of Reconciliation at Continental level, and is this that we are living since July 29, 2015, and that we will celebrate the closer during this Assembly, during the Year of Mercy Celebration, promulgated by Pope Francis.

Over these last 10 years, SECAM always calls the African government rulers on the way that they can assume their responsibilities, as leaders of their own countries, through promotion of conditions that can benefit Justice, Peace and Development, with forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s why, SECAM look for and achieved the Observe Status near the African Union, expecting that the same could also happen in the Regional and National Parliaments of our countries. In that way, we are able to give in each one of that levels, our contribution, as Church, on the solution of most and serious troubles that our continent and Adjacent Islands tackled: violence and conflicts, increase of poverty of their populations, economics equity, ambient issues, increased with climatic change, governance of natural resources using, governance and democracy.

Everyone of these ask SECAM its better structure in order to have an efficiently cooperation with African States and not only. This is also in agenda for the Plenary Assembly, here in Luanda city.

Now it’s just my personal task to thank all and each one of the presents here, for your kind attention to my words.

Eminences, Excellences, sisters and brothers, ladies and gentlemen, in these moment I have the pleasant honor to declare the opening of the 17th Plenary Assembly of SECAM.

Thank you very much!