Catholic Bishops in Africa, Europe collaborate for more harmonious and prosperous future for Church

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR

Catholic Bishops in Africa and Europe have affirmed their commitment to deepening their relationship and to implementing concrete actions that reflect their unity in Christ for deepened harmony and prosperity of the Catholic Church in the continents.

This collaboration was entered into at the Meeting of the Representatives of the Bishops of Africa (SECAM) and of Europe (CCEE) in Nairobi, Kenya from January 23 to 25, 2024

The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and
the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) held their seventh joint seminar at the Mariapolis Retreat Centre, Nairobi.

The seminal event; under the theme “Synodality: Africa and Europe
Walking Together” marked a continued commitment to fostering deeper
communion and solidarity between the Churches of Africa and Europe.

In the seminar’s final message signed by H.EM. Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, President of SECAM and H. E. Msgr. Gintaras Grusas, President of CCEE, the representatives of the bishops of Africa and Europe, united in the call to cultivate a culture of fraternity.

 

Africa, European Catholic Bishops to convene in Nairobi for 7th joint seminar on Tuesday

They noted the need for particular attention to be paid to the voices and contributions of young people in a world increased digitalization.

Representatives of African and European Bishops
Representatives of African and European Bishops

They affirmed the need for the active involvement of young persons in the life and mission of the Church.

The full message read, “To you, the dear people of God in Africa and Europe, grace and peace, from us, the Bishops of the SECAM and CCEE delegations, gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for our Seminar entitled “Synodality: Africa and Europe Walking Together”.

“We acknowledge the profound changes and escalating instability in our world, including conflicts in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Throughout these regions we also witness increasing violence against Christians and misery caused by global injustice and bad governance. In the midst of these alarming challenges, our faith in the resurrected Lord remains unshaken. Christ is the one who brings us peace and hope, providing a beacon of light and certainty amidst the turmoil and
uncertainty that characterize our times.

“We acknowledge the profound significance of the transformation of the Roman Curia and the entire Church as outlined in the Apostolic Constitution “Praedicate Evangelium”. This transformative reform, guided by Pope Francis, seeks to align the Church with the challenges of the 21st century.

“This instrument of the Holy Fathers’ apostolate emphasizes a missionary conversion, fostering an ecclesiology of communion, and notably, incorporates the participation of the lay people, especially women, in Church governance. This reform advocates for decentralization, enhanced
collaboration with bishops, and addresses the diverse cultural and pastoral needs, especially
pertinent to Africa. This paradigm shift marks a new era for the Curia, focusing on service and embodying the vision of a synodal Church, rooted in communion, participation, and mission.

“Reflecting on the first session of the Synod in Rome, we embrace both European and African perspectives: Europe’s diverse ecclesial identity fosters a deep listening and discerning church journey, highlighting transparency and dialogue while Africa’s specific cultural and societal aspects emphasize communal values and inclusivity.

“As we eagerly anticipate the second session of the Synod, we affirm our commitment to deepening our relationship and to implementing concrete actions that reflect our unity in Christ. We propose a healthy, missionary, and pastoral exchange between the conferences of Europe and Africa. We aim to integrate African values such as community-mindedness and family into parish life, and advocate for a healthy priest exchange program between our continents.

“Our collaboration will extend to formation and communitarian discernment, conducted in a spirit of humility and mutual respect between our churches. In this shared journey of faith, we recognize ourselves as learners, with both clergy and laity walking together in proclaiming Christ to the world.

Representatives of African and European Bishops
Representatives of African and European Bishops

“In our collective journey, we endeavour to be particularly attentive to the voices and contributions of our young people in a world increased digitalization. Recognizing their unique perspectives and energy, we affirm the need for their active involvement in the life and mission of the Church. By listening attentively to their experiences and insights, whilst guiding them in the faith, we commit to a deeper understanding and response to their needs.

“As we stand at a pivotal moment in our world, we, the bishops of Africa and Europe, unite in the call to cultivate a culture of fraternity. In this spirit, we endeavour to create a more harmonious and prosperous future. Together, we commit to this journey, building bridges that not only connect our continents, but which also nurture the growth and flourishing of our diverse communities in faith and love.

“May God bless our joint efforts as we walk together in synodality, uniting Africa and Europe in faith, hope, and love.”

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