The Archbishop of Lubango (Angola) and the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) Most Rev. Gabriel MBILINGI, CSSp, has opened the 18th SECAM Plenary Assembly and Golden Jubilee in Kampala-Uganda calling on African Christians to be courageous within and outside the Church, to be ready to openly affirm and defend their Christian faith and doctrine, and boldly witness to Christ as the Ugandan martyrs did.
He said said while opening the Plenary Assembly taking place from 20th-29th July 2019 on the theme, “ Church Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee, Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour”.
Most Rev. Mbilingi stated that Uganda was very important to the church in Africa and its adjacent islands because that is where SECAM was born some fifty years ago (July 1969). That is also where 45 black Africans voluntarily gave a heroic witness to Christ from 1885 to 1887, openly declaring adherence to the Christian faith and were cruelly martyred.
The celebration of SECAM’s Golden Jubilee on Ugandan soil should thus make the church and Africa as a whole turn once again to God, for the spirit of true conversion in order to bear greater witness of Jesus Christ and to contribute to the creation of a new African continent.
Recognizing the positive impact of Christianity on Africans, the SECAM President said the evangelizing mission of the Church should lead to the emergence of a true Church-Family of God on the continent and thus lead to a new Africa where unity, peace, justice and harmonious relationships are a reality.
He stressed that, moving into another era in SECAM’s life, “evangelization demands that we proclaim Jesus Christ to others, not only with words but, above all, with the testimony of life and exemplary conduct; it is therefore necessary that SECAM through its members (Regional and National Episcopal Conferences) embrace the vision of the founding Fathers of the Symposium; speak with one voice; defend more concretely and deeply issues related to pastoral solidarity, collaboration and communion throughout the continent and the islands.
He further urged the plenary to pay particular attention to the demands of the Kampala Document which will be published at the end of the Plenary Assembly celebration, this is because the document together with the SECAM Strategic Plan: 2020-2024, will constitute the Symposium’s agenda for a more intense evangelizing mission in Africa and its Islands for years to come.
The president expressed gratitude to the Ugandan Bishops’ Conference as well as His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda and his Government for the support they gave to the plenary.
A message from his holiness Pope Francis prayed that African Bishops may be strengthened in thier misssionary discipleship and that SECAM will continue to be of valuable service to the local church throughout Africa.