The Vatican Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Most Rev. Protase Rugambwa has urged African Bishops to promote a spirit of solidarity and unity in their episcopacy and within the institutions in their local Churches to build a new Africa.
Speaking to hundreds of delegates on Sunday July 21, during the Opening Ceremony of the 18th Plenary Assembly and Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Archbishop Rugambwa exhorted the African prelates “to live with ‘collegial affect,’ or ‘affective collegiality,’ which gives rise to a deep concern on the part of bishops for other particular Churches and for the Universal Church.”
He said that such collegial affect is to be actualized and expressed in different ways, even institutional.
“This should concretely translate into, among other things, a tangible participation in the activities of SECAM and its structures, regarding both personnel and finances,” he added.
He further challenged the bishops to spare no effort or initiative in order to make this solidarity effective, through well-developed structures that are adapted to actual circumstances and situations.
The prelate also called upon them to heed to the message of Pope St. Paul VI during his visit to Uganda in 1969 which urged the church in Africa to be aware of itself and of its great task throughout the continent. “By now, you Africans are missionaries to yourselves.” This gave the African black person and the African continent a Christian identity card.
Archbishop Rugambwa encouraged the delegates to advocate for an establishment of a just social order. He noted the three principle elements of the theme chosen for the 2009 Synod, namely reconciliation, justice and peace, adding that the Church has a mission of truth to accomplish.
“In such a way, the Church is called to form upright consciences receptive to the demands of justice, so as to produce men and women willing and able to build this social order by their responsible conduct,” he explained.
He called upon them to emulate the Uganda Martyrs by teaching the faithful to remain courageous and to stand for the truth in whatever circumstances.
The Archbishop told the participants to keep the message of Pope Francis alive which speaks on the need for transformation and conversion in the Chur
The SECAM Plenary kicked off on Sunday July 20, and is expected to end on Monday July 29. It is held under the theme “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Meet and Welcome Christ your Saviour.”
Over 300 delegates from Africa, Madagascar, Europe, America, Asia and beyond are in attendance including cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, Religious men and women, representatives of various partners and selected institutions among others.
SECAM is a fruit of the efforts of African Bishops who during the second Vatican Council (1962-1965) resolved to establish a continental structure to unite the Church in Africa and promote collaboration in pastoral ministry. The Association was officially launched on July 29, 1969 at Lubaga Cathedral during the first plenary of the African bishops, and was officially closed by Pope Saint Paul VI on July 31, 1969 during his visit to Uganda.