Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich with members of the Standing Committtee of SECAM in Accra, Ghana
The Standing Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Congferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) held its bi-annual meeting from November 16-20, 2015 at the SECAM Secretariat in Accra, Ghana. At the end of the meeting we, the bishops, having deliberated on reports from our Secretariat, Commissions and Departments issue the following communique:
- Welcoming the Holy Father to Africa
As representatives of the Church in Africa we warmly welcome the Holy Father, Pope Francis, as he makes his first Apostolic visit to our continent (Kenya, Uganda and the central African Republic) from November 25-30, 2015, we rejoice that the Holy Father’s visit, coming so soon after the Synod on the Family, will strengthen the faith of our peoples in the Church as Family of God and confirm us in our long-cherished Christian and African values. We are convinced that the family is and remains the fundamental and indispensable pillar of the life in the society. We call on all the people of our continent and on all our governments to commit themselves to the sustenance of African families, and protect the fundamental values of our cultures. We reiterate our commitment also to the sustenance and promotion of the institutions of marriage and the family and confirm our unshakeable belief in the sanctity of human life. We pray for the success of the Holy Father’s visit and for God’s abundant blessings.
- No to Terrorism
We strongly denounce the terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali, Lebanon, France and other parts of the world, which have claimed numerous innocent lives and brought sorrow and pain to many families and their countries. We condemn all acts of terrorism that have occurred in any part of the world and urge the perpetrators and their sponsors to stop, We extend our condolence and sympathy to all those who have been affected, and the Government and people of such countries. We pray that the souls of the dead may rest in perfect peace and for consolation for all the bereaved.
- An Appeal for Peace
We unite ourselves with all those who are working for peace and reconciliation in troubled areas of Africa and the world, especially in Burundi, South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, and some other North African countries. We appeal in the name of God to all parties involved in the conflicts in these areas to lay down their arms and embrace the path of dialogue and peace for the sake of posterity. We also enjoin the governments and all concerned competent authorities to create the conducive environment for the restoration of peace in these locations.
- CANAA and CEPACS
We note with approval the emergence and progress of the Catholic News Agency of Africa (CANAA) and appreciate the sacrifice of those who have kept it going. In this information age it is of utmost importance that the story of the pastoral initiatives and challenges of the Church in Africa be told in an authentic and respectful manner. CANAA with its base in Nairobi, Kenya represents a major step fonruard in achieving this objective. As the Holy Father, Pope Francis admonished the Standing Committee of SECAM during the committee’s last Adlimina visit to the Vatican, SECAM must help the Church in Africa to tell her own story from the African perspective. The Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), which gave birth to CANAA, is well positioned to carry out this important function. In the light of this, we call on all media organizations, professionals and individuals of goodwill to support and patronize the services of CANAA as a means of enhancing the evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa.
- SECAM and the African Union
We applaud the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between SECAM and the African Union on August 19, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, The formalization of the collaboration between these two continental bodies is a milestone which will truly enrich African history and the mission of the Church in Africa. lt will enhance the realization of the vision of the AU in coordinating development through the collaboration of informed and motivated Africans themselves. The intention of SECAM to contribute her quota along with others to the enhancement of peace, with the African Union is borne out of a genuine desire to participate in the work of realizing the authentic African Renaissance driven by respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law. We believe that this is not only desirable and possible but by the grace of God, achievable as well.
- Appreciation to our Partners
We express deep appreciation for the work done by our Secretariat, Commissions, Departments and our local and international Partner Organizations who have helped us in realizing the objectives of SECAM so far, We call for further cooperation and collaboration from all our Regional and National Episcopal Conferences so that the mission of the Church in Africa as Family of God can be better accomplished. We are confident that the more we work together the better we can serve the people of Africa and the Mission of the Universal Church.
- A Call to Reconciliation
To all the Countries of Africa and its islands as we continue in this continental year of Reconciliation from July 29, 2015 to July 29, 2016 we say in the words of St. Paul,” rI is as though God r,vas urging you though us and in the name of Christ we appeal to you to be reconciled to God” ( 2 Corinthians 5:20).Coinciding as it does with the Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015- November 20, 2016,let us all be truly reconciled with one another and through these means be reconciled with God our Merciful Father. lt is only by this means shall we find God’s mercy borne of harmonious co-existence and development. May Mary the mother of Jesus intercede for us all in our prayers so that our continent, Africa, may experience true love, justice and peace. Amen.
Most Rev. Gabriel Mbilingi,
Archbishop of Lubango, Angola
President of SECAM.