Bishops in Africa Laud Theologians’ Weekly Conversations on Synod on Synodality

Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior, the Secretary General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). Credit: SECAM

Catholic Bishops in Africa have lauded the weekly conversations organized by African theologians on the Synod on Synodality, noting that the Friday engagements will deepen the understanding of the synod.

In his address at the first virtual session of the conversations on June 7, Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior, the Secretary General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), said that the conversations will also prepare African participants for the next session of the Synod on Synodality which runs from Wednesday October 7 – Sunday October 27 in Rome.

“We express our best wishes for the work that begins today – the weekly conversation. We believe that it will be an important instrument to prepare not only the delegate to the Second Session of the Synod but the entire Church, who is called to understand and to live this new way of being Church,” Fr. Simbine said.

He added, “We are so happy and grateful for this great initiative and for having been invited to witness it.”

The conversations which will be held every Friday, taking the form of ‘African palavers’ are an initiative of  the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) in collaboration with the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (COMSAM).


Through the conversations, theologians in Africa seek to deepen the understanding of the Synthesis Report of the ongoing Synod on Synodality ahead of the October session in Rome.

Topics identified for the conversations are hinged on the next session of the Synod on Synodality.

More than 250 theologians, priests, and religious, as well as laity, took part in the June 7 conversation that was enriched by African proverbs.

The participants explored the topic “Listening to the Voices of the Poor and God’s People in Africa”.

In his address, Fr. Simbine lauded the creation of PACTPAN, a network which provides a forum for conversation for African Christian scholars.

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“I salute and pay tribute to the idea of creating PACTPAN and the brilliant work which has been done so far. It has been precious and has served as one of the most important tools to make the potential of the Church in Africa known to the world. Thank you very much for your hard work,” the SECAM official said.

The member of the Clergy of Mozambique’s Catholic Diocese of Xai-Xai noted that the Church in Africa is growing and “is being strong and with her own and clear position within the Universal Church.”

“The Church in Africa is no longer a baby Church and that is why it has begun to be respected in the world sphere. She increasingly shows herself as the Church of the present and of the future,” Fr. Simbine said, adding that the growth of the Church on the continent demands a lot from African theologians.

He said the Church’s numerical growth in Africa must be accompanied by theological engagement and clarification.

The Mozambican priest challenged theologians in Africa to do a lot of research into theological and other issues of particular concern to the Church on the continent, and to recommend appropriate pastoral actions.


“I would like to emphasize this. A theology that is not pure speculation and from the utopian sphere, but a theology that suggests appropriate pastoral actions for the concrete problems that the Church in Africa is facing today,” he said.

The SECAM official emphasized the need for collaboration among various groups of theologians in Africa, saying, “Synodality school is teaching us to work in communion and collaboration. To walk together and to receive the differences as richness.”

“We wish to have proactive theologians in Africa, working in holy communion and collaboration with the Universal Church and at service of the whole Catholic Church,” he said.

Expressing his gratitude to PACTPAN and COMSAM for the Synodality initiative, Fr. Simbine said, “May the Lord help us to use this means as an opportunity to deepen our knowledge of each other, to strengthen our sense of communion and to experience the beauty of being a synodal church: being together, working together, journeying together and dreaming together.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.