July 23, 2024
Catholic Church in Africa and Islands: Synod Assembly is over, but the Synodal and Missionary Church is Moving Forward
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After a morning dedicated to the practice of spiritual conversation in working groups on the draft Final Document that will be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod (www.Secretariat.Synod.va) by 31 March, Saturday afternoon the participants gathered in a plenary assembly to share the fruits of the morning’s work.

Much of the afternoon was devoted to perfecting the final document with corrections and amendments. It was arduous but true collegial work where everyone was able to express their opinion. The assembly managed to approve a set of priorities that it intends to offer as an Africa Synod document to the universal Church for the work of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The ad hoc group of experts who, since the seminaries in Accra and Nairobi, have been working on the Addis Ababa Synodal Assembly document, will continue to refine the document according to the indications received from the Assembly before sending it to the General Secretariat of the Synod.

In their closing remarks cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, who hosted the meeting, said: “We are all Africans, so let us be free to move anywhere, to journey together, especially our youth who aspire to go to go Arab region of Africa and South Africa in search of greener pastures. The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) can not only be the voice of Africa but also the point of reference”.

Bishop Lucio Muandula, first vice-president of SECAM, quoted psalm 133 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes” to express his satisfaction and reminded how “Journeying together gives us the strength to overcome any problems and challenges.”

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur of the 16th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops, expressed his joy and satisfaction with the work of the assembly. “I would like to thank God and all of you for this wonderful time of listening, of listening with empathy. In all continental assemblies I have found a catholic way of journeying together, of synodality through the spiritual conversation where sisters or brothers are a place where the Holy Spirit speaks to us and where we are all called to conversion in order to serve the world”. And referring particularly to the last session, he stated “I must say that I admire you for the passion you put in this last debate. It shows that the Church in Africa is living and that God’s Spirit is living in you”.

Then, the President of SECAM, cardinal Fridolin Ambongo closed officially the meeting saying: “We have come to the end of this historic Continental Plenary Assembly of the Synod on Synodality. […] These days we have been together at this Synod Assembly were not only a moment to talk about synodality, but a moment of experiencing synodality. We truly felt like a family, the family of God in Africa and the Islands that walks together, sharing the joy and sorrows of our time.

Focusing on the exercise of listening, cardinal Ambongo recognized that “listening to each other and to the Holy Spirit, helped us to reach consensus in dealing with the delicate themes that the Church is living today on the continent and the Islands, and to identify the priorities of the Church in Africa. This Synod Assembly is over, but the synodal and missionary Church is moving forward!”.

The President of SECAM then concluded that: “Renewed through the celebration of this continental synodal assembly, the Church in Africa and Islands commits to moving on, especially by deepening the sense of being a Church-family, making it a place of mutual listening and listening to the Holy Spirit, a place of communion, forgiveness and reconciliation. Renewed by the celebration of this synodal assembly, the Church in Africa commits to enlarge the tent of inclusion by following the Gospel principle of conversation as the criteria”.

For the bishops gathered in the Ethiopian capital, works will resume on Sunday afternoon for a final working session. A final press release of the Assembly will be issued in the evening of Sunday, 5 March.

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